Headquarters Allied Command Transformation (HQ SACT) and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) held their first virtual joint workshop on securing NATO military 5G networks on 3-4 February 2021.
The Fifth Generation International Mobile Telecommunications (5G) technology is the latest in commercial technology that has the potential to provide a second digital revolution, and support Smart Cities, autonomous vehicles, and enhanced multi-media experiences. In fact many in the world are now using this technology reaping the early benefits. Similarly, NATO’s military is examining this dual use technology for opportunities. When the technology is to be used in critical military functions, security must be integrated in the beginning. This first workshop brought together world class experts from the industry and academia together with nations and NATO enterprise to discuss how to effectively secure military 5G networks.
Rear Admiral René Tas, Assistant Chief of Staff, HQ SACT, at the start of the workshop indicated it is not a question will the military use 5G technologies, but how will it do so, in particular, by tackling security challenges in order to prevent disastrous consequences. Colonel Jaak Tarien, Director of the CCDCOE, stressed the role the Centre plays in engaging all stakeholders–nations, industry, and academia. The CCDCOE executes research projects examining security aspects of the 5G technology, focusing on both regulatory, strategic and policy aspects, as well as technical testing, including developing a 5G security testbed to be used at the Centre’s cyber defence exercises. Melissa Hathaway, a globally recognised cybersecurity thought leader, the President of Hathaway Global Strategies, provided a keynote address and touched upon the fact that 5G technology has become an essential enabler for many critical functions and will generate trillions of dollars in economic value. She offered approaches to create clean telecommunication networks, improve market competition between secure suppliers, conduct risk assessments and develop a unified action plan.
Over the two-day virtual workshop, over 130 experts from industry, academia, national military, and NATO organizations developed inputs into what steps NATO will have to take in order to secure NATO military 5G networks. Participants gained best practices from industry, forged linkages for further collaboration, and exchanged ideas to improve the security of their national and NATO 5G initiatives. Finally, the workshop continued to demonstrate the power of the digital technologies to maintain and strengthen the transatlantic bond and move topics of importance to NATO despite ongoing pandemic restrictions.