There are a lot of high hopes for 5G. The new wireless technology is supposed to be transformative, making our devices, cities and industries all more connected. But it also brings about new security risks, a challenge that China’s biggest cybersecurity company is looking to address.
Qihoo 360 co-founder and CEO Zhou Hongyi recently announced that he’s bringing some of his 5G security proposals to the Two Sessions, China’s most important political event that started on Thursday. One of these proposals is to form a national government-led 5G security strategy that involves multiple stakeholders.
“5G construction and application bring major new security risks,” Zhou said in an interview published on Thursday by Chinese state media outlet The Paper.
Zhou said 5G is the driver of the industrial internet — linking industrial facilities with big data, cloud computing and other tech. The new wireless standard is also set to be applied in other IoT applications, driverless cars, telemedicine, smart cities and drones. And all of these things will face new security challenges.
Zhou also said 5G safety standards should be developed both at the domestic and international levels. Domestically, Zhou proposes a government-led effort that involves stakeholders like equipment suppliers, terminal manufacturers, network operators and network security enterprises.
He added that cybersecurity no longer only affects just virtual space, but extends into the real world with a serious impact on national, social and personal security.
Zhou’s call for independent control of 5G also seems to align with China’s efforts toward “cyber sovereignty.” China should seek to break the technological monopoly of Western countries, he said.
“At the international level, we should actively promote the development of international standards for 5G technology and security mechanisms and gain more say in 5G’s global layout,” Zhou added.
While Qihoo 360 is China’s largest cybersecurity company, it’s not a household name in the rest of the world. The private company, which owns a stake in the browser company Opera Software, is mostly known for its security and anti-virus software.
These days, however, it’s playing an increasingly important role in China’s cybersecurity efforts. During the coronavirus pandemic over the last few months, Qihoo 360 has been tracking cyberattacks on other private companies and Chinese agencies and diplomatic missions. One of the biggest accusations it leveled was against the CIA, which Qihoo 360 claims was responsible for an attack lasting years.
In his interview, Zhou said Qihoo 360 is currently the only company in China that can detect attacks from other countries.