Sep 5, 2019

Ex-FCC head: Huawei fears obscure broader threats to 5G security

Photo illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

There's important work to be done in securing 5G, the next generation of wireless service, former Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler told Axios. And not all of it stems from China's most controversial telecommunications equipment company.

What they're saying: "All the attention that’s being paid to Huawei, all of the furor, all of the upheaval, has masked the broader issue of the new set of threats that 5G presents," Wheeler said.

The big picture: The decentralized nature of 5G, the wide influx of new telecom equipment and the weak security of the many new devices 5G will connect to the internet create major new security challenges that need to be addressed.

Wheeler writes about those challenges and potential solutions in a Brookings Institute report out this week.

  • The administration and Congress have largely focused on Huawei, which is accused by the U.S. government of sabotaging its equipment to aid China in espionage.
  • While Wheeler acknowledges Huawei is a threat, he worries that the rush to bring 5G products to market will introduce additional security problems lawmakers aren't addressing.

The bottom line: Wheeler says all connected products need security standards that change at the speed of technology, rather than the speed of Congress. "You cannot import a radio frequency device unless it meets established standards. The same should be true of 5G devices," Wheeler said.

  • Regulators, he believes, should be able to hold wireless companies to an industry defined set of standards for 5G security. Otherwise, he worries, proactively handling security issues puts providers at a cost disadvantage.

Go deeper: Global demand for high-end smartphones is declining

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George Soros wary of Trump's stance on Huawei

U.S. investor and philanthropist George Soros. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Billionaire George Soros wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Tuesday that he is worried the Trump administration may use the ban that prevents U.S. companies from doing business with telecom giant Huawei as a bargaining chip in U.S.-China trade talks.

Why it matters: Soros, a longtime target of conservatives, praised Republicans for introducing amendments to prevent the president from removing Huawei as a national-security threat without the consent of Congress. But the legislation is at odds with the president's desire to relax restrictions.

Go deeperArrowSep 10, 2019

Trump administration threatens California with highway funding cuts

Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent the California Air Resources Board a letter threatening to cut federal highway funding because of air pollution issues — claiming that the state has the "worst air quality" in the U.S.

Why it matters: The letter, first reported by the Sacramento Bee, from EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler declaring that California has failed to "carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act" marks the latest in a series of battles between the Trump administration and the liberal state.

Go deeperArrowSep 24, 2019

Where current cybersecurity guidelines fall short

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amidst legislative stalling, a consortium of twelve manufacturers has developed a framework for automotive cybersecurity best practices.

The big picture: At first glance, their guidelines hit the right points — incorporating security into design, developing risk assessment and incident response strategies — but current security solutions are not sufficient against increasingly sophisticated threats.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019