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5G networks will form the backbone of our ever-digitalising society

Publication date 21.6.2021 6.59
Laura Vilkkonen (Photo: Ministry of Transport and Communications)

The 5G technology currently being introduced will enable the kind of new services that we cannot even imagine at this stage. However, we already have some examples of sectors using the new technology. For example, industry, healthcare and automated transport are among the major beneficiaries of the 5G network technology.

At the same time, the changing nature of networks and services based on them will pose new security-related challenges. As more and more critical infrastructures in our society are based on 5G network technology, more attention will need to be paid to the secure and undisrupted operation of these networks.

The security of 5G networks is a key part

Significant progress has been made in ensuring the security of 5G networks over the past year. In January 2021, the revised Act on Electronic Communications Services entered into force. The reform implemented measures included in the common toolbox to secure the EU's 5G networks to protect critical parts of the communications network.

Finland has attached great importance to the EU's common approach to the security of 5G networks. The above-mentioned common toolbox published at the beginning of 2020 can therefore be seen as a notable signal of the joint efforts of EU Member States to ensure the security of 5G networks. The common toolbox emphasises, for example, the increased powers of national authorities and the importance of safeguarding critical parts of communications networks in the era of 5G networks.

With the reform of the Act on Electronic Communications Services, new development has been achieved in the security of communications networks, especially from the point of view of national security. The legislation now prohibits the use of a communication network device on a communications network that could endanger national security.

Working forward together

The broad-based approach, bringing together different administrative branches and stakeholders, has long been a tradition in Finland. This co-operation has been further intensified by the establishment of a new Advisory Board on Network Security. The task of the Advisory Board is to monitor the security of communications networks and to deal extensively with issues related to the security of communications networks.

The Advisory Board has representations from key authorities of relevant administrative branches as well as telecommunications operators. Based on the first few meetings alone, it is already clear that there is a demand for this type of regularly convening co-operation body.

The co-operation involves a highly diverse group of actors. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom and the National Cyber Security Centre Finland organised an international hackathon event together with the National Emergency Supply Agency in June. The purpose of the event is to improve 5G cybersecurity and promote the security of the digital society.

As great a leap as we have made over the past year in terms of the security of 5G networks, more needs to be done. The rapidly changing digital environment leaves us no alternative.

Laura Vilkkonen
The writer is Director-General of the Data Department at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom: 
5G Cyber Security Hack 2021, Traficom 5G cyber security decision maker webinar

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