Ericsson flags security risks as telcos seek clarity on Huawei

NEW DELHI: Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson said telecom operators now have a much larger responsibility to safeguard their networks from cyberattacks and that they need to trust their vendors even more than before.

“I think absolutely an operator has a much larger responsibility… for example, if they subcontract somebody to provide a backhaul line, they have to ensure that they are up to grips and do their part of it,” Magnus Ewebring, chief technology officer for Ericsson in Asia Pacific, told ET.

The remarks come in the backdrop of Indian telecom operators seeking clarity over the participation of Chinese gear maker Huawei in 5G field trials and further in 5G commercial deployments. The Indian government, which has yet to take a final decision, has said that it will not compromise on the security of its telecom networks and that it accords high priority to data sovereignty.

The US has been pressuring India to ban Huawei from the 5G development and deployment, citing concerns around cyberspying owing to the company’s alleged proximity to the Chinese government. China, in turn, has also warned about impact on its ties with India if such a ban were to be imposed.


Ewebring said that telecom operators in India can translate the security aspect of their networks into a business opportunity. “I think for operators to go forward, trust is something that operators can sell to their customers. This is an opportunity for telcos,” he said.

“It is like you do with your money. You put it in a bank. There’s a lot of trust when you choose a bank,” he said, adding that in future enterprise users may choose a certain operator who they think can manage the complexity of security reliability and trust.

Security, the Ericsson executive said, can be divided into many groups such as network resilience, standardisation and communication security. Telcos should be resilient to network disruption caused by attacks, and to ensure how soon they can recover, he said.

Ewebring said, “in the telecom industry, we have good experience of it”. “Part of it is standardised, part of it is how we at Ericsson make our products and part of it is how we deploy it together with our customers,” he said.


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