5g5g networkCYBERSECNATOPolish Ministry of Digital Affairsthree seas

Informal 5G Summit with support from Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs and NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence.


The 5G deployment requires enhanced cooperation and understanding of complicated economic and political circumstances, both for national security and economic development after the covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, this Road to CYBERSEC webinar has been enlarged thanks to the participation of the representatives of Three Seas region countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Poland, Romania) which has allowed us to better understand the state of play regarding 5G deployment and cooperation possibilities. Given the dynamics of the decision-making process around 5G technology as well as its military dimension, a multi-stakeholder dialogue, the exchange of views regarding the interpretation of certain provisions of 5G EU toolbox (e.g. high-risk vendors or diversification strategy) as well as cooperation between like-minded democracies are absolutely crucial and form a necessary steps to build a secure and resilient 5G infrastructure.

The Road to CYBERSEC session turned out to be very timely as it took place two days after the United Kingdom’s decision to ban Huawei from its 5G networks. Also, the wave of calls to toughen up telecom security in other parts of Europe has emerged with one of the most recent one made by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in The Telegram who underlined: “Protecting our technology is a crucial part of national security. We all must adopt robust measures to ensure our networks are secure. Disregarding the need to secure our critical technology would be a mistake for which Europeans would pay a considerable price. (…) For this technology to serve us well, its implementation must be based on trust and democratic control. Otherwise, we risk that today’s crisis will be only a prelude to what awaits us if an unauthorised entity takes control of 5G networks and supply chains. (…) Countries must be able to control suppliers to ensure safety, which is why they must be from nations that respect our fundamental values: democracy, transparency, human rights and the rule of law.”

During the webinar the following aspects related to 5G networks were highlighted: the position of the EU and the role of international cooperation in achieving secure 5G network, military dimension of 5G and Open RAN initiative.

The position of the eu and the role of international cooperation in achieving secure 5g network

The international order has been changing dynamically for the last years. From the early stage of the 5G network development – and now even more with its effective deployment – we have witnessed shifts and splits between countries to the point where 5G is turning into the battleground of a global geopolitical technological competition. Some countries have been changing their legal and trade structures as well as interpretations of international law in ways that are frequently fundamentally incompatible with the approach of like-minded democracies. What we might observe now in terms of 5G technology is a resemblance to the cold war where countries are being forced to decide which side they are going to be taking.

5G is not only about a major shift in technology, it is also about countries’ position in the global digital value chain. Therefore, it constitutes one of the key drivers to deliver Europe’s top political priorities and the EU cannot afford to be late in its rollout. With the 5G network Europe can have an edge, be at the forefront and leverage 5G connectivity through rich and very diverse industrial fabric. The stakes are very high and security will be a defining issue.

Given the increasing role of suppliers and the complexity of the value chain, the degree of dependency on individual suppliers and cooperation with trustworthy partners have become one of  the main security challenges and topics of the international debate on 5G. The EU, while remaining open for global competition set a very high standard for privacy and security for 5G deployment. There is a need to preserve the trust of citizens and investors in 5G. Hence, we need a coordinated response and the 5G toolbox is the first good step towards this. As Europe, we should cooperate with the international community and include all like-minded stakeholders in the debate to get a shared understanding of 5G security so we can all compete on equal footing. The EU needs to stay united in its approach and strive for the harmonised framework defined by the European Commission in 2019. As there is a significant convergence between EU economic plans and the 5G rollout, the connectivity (and smart connectivity) will be the link between EU’s Digital Strategy and EU’s Green Deal. It will also be instrumental to support Europe’s recovery plans.

New technological challenges need strategic approach in the entire EU, Commissioner Thierry Breton said recently: “Of course, we already need to look beyond 5G. I am talking about starting to prepare for 6G of course, but not only. (…) The current fragmentation in Europe with suboptimised business models based on national markets and high costs for national spectrum licenses is holding back our collective potential compared to other continents. It is time to encourage consolidation (…) and to create a true internal market for telecommunications services.”

5G – military dimension

The introduction of 5G represents a critical change in the communications environment requiring significant effort to anticipate how its deployment will change the operating environment in NATO and in the military realm. 5G will provide increased support to secret services, special forces operations as it can give rise to control and espionage systems far more efficient than those systems that are currently used. Major shifts in technology create a variety of opportunities but at the same time they create new threats that are enabled by the increased capabilities. National services can employ 5G across the spectrum of military operations to improve efficiency and effectiveness of weapon systems and involve whole new operational concepts based on machine to machine communication. Future military and security assets will use both fixed and mobile 5G networks to minimally process massive amounts of data that today’s weapon systems rely on and future weapon systems will rely on even more by connecting distance sensors and weapons into a dense and resilient operational network. Widespread deployment of 5G networks can rapidly accelerate the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence in decision-making processes with the potential to radically transform military operations. Lower latency communication will enable new generations of yet unmade and unknown weapons and systems within transportation and logistics areas.

Nonetheless, any compromise of the underlying 5G services could have catastrophic results. For this reason, defence and security assets must learn to use 5G capabilities and recognise transformative opportunities to operate with speed, precision and efficiency necessary to remain effective and survivable in the future. They must also be alert to the risks and unattended consequences that may accompany dependence on 5G technology. Sovereign nation states and their government authority are not the only actors evaluating technology and seeking to capitalise on these new threats and opportunities. Criminal enterprises and individuals are actively evaluating 5G technology looking for creative and innovative ways to leverage it to their advantage.

Historically the military was the engine to push towards tech development. Today, in many cases, the military adopts technologies that are developed by industries. There is a need for governments and military executives to understand that they should be more engaged in control and development of various pieces of technology as they are used as the backbone for future operations.

Openran initiative – towards open and secure network

The entire telecommunications industry is undergoing dynamic changes and alternative technology options are being discussed and assessed. The Open RAN has been gaining coverage in the last months and can be presented as a way to decrease commercial dependencies and geopolitical tensions surrounding the deployment of 5G. Creating a partially virtual infrastructure that is interoperable and vendor-neutral might be an answer to governments for the challenges regarding the dependencies on certain vendors. With the open ecosystem, there are opportunities to leverage security features even more. It gives operators more flexibility to choose the best solutions of the networks and to shape and improve the infrastructure in a more specialised and tailored way. Open RAN is not, however, a quick solution to all challenges, it is rather a long-term project that demands cooperation between governments and industries. It has the potential to diversify the market of suppliers, especially in the domain of radio components. After opening the market and increasing diversification, there is still a need to oversee who will finance independent testing of the code. As history showed, open architecture is not always secure and the Heartbleed attack on OpenSSL (where everybody assumed that as it is open it is also secure) is a proof of that.

Earlier this year, an Open RAN Policy Coalition was created by 31 global technology companies with the aim to promote open interfaces that will help ensure interoperability and facilitate market entry for new innovative suppliers. Their aim is to also encourage policymakers to support open wireless technologies, fund research in this domain and build secure radio access infrastructure.


Join us at the at the CYBERSEC GLOBAL 2020 (28–29 September) which will further explore the topic of 5G networks.

More information


CYBERSEC Programme Committee Members:

  1. Martin Achimovič – Director, NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence
  2. Izabela Albrycht– Chair, The Kosciuszko Institute; President, Organising Committee of the European Cybersecurity Forum – CYBERSEC
  3. Bonnie Butlin– Co-founder & Executive Director, Security Partners’ Forum
  4. Tadeusz Chomicki– Ambassador for Cyber & Tech Affairs, Security Policy Department, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  5. Lise Fuhr– Director General, ETNO
  6. Melissa Hathaway – President, Hathaway Global Strategies, LLC; Former Cybersecurity Advisor, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations; Expert of the Kosciuszko Institute
  7. Julian King– Former European Commissioner for Security Union
  8. Robert Muggah– Principal, SecDev Group
  9. Christopher Painter– President, The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise; Commissioner, Global Commission on Stability of Cyberspace; Former Coordinator for Cyber Issues, U.S. State Department
  10. Jayshree Pandya– Founder and CEO, Risk Group LLC
  11. Andrea Rodriguez– CYBERSEC 2019 Young Leader; Researcher and Project Manager, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB); Associate Member, Observatory for the Social and Ethical Impact of Artificial Intelligence (OdiseIA)
  12. Paul Timmers – Research Associate, Oxford University; Former Director, Sustainable & Secure Society Directorate, DG CONNECT, European Commission
  13. Omree Wechsler– CYBERSEC 2019 Young Leader; Senior Researcher, Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, Tel Aviv University

NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence:

  1. Martin Achimovič – Director, NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence
  2. Mariusz Nogaj – Deputy Director, NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence
  3. Andrew Hodgkins – Chief of Staff, NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence

Three Seas countries representatives:

  1. Václav Borovička – Head of Cyber Security Policies Department, National Cyber and Information Security Agency of Czech Republic
  2. Ulrike Butschek– Department for Security Policy, Austrian Federal Ministry European and International Affairs
  3. Zhaklin Chalakova– Junior Expert, Communications Regulation Commission of Bulgaria
  4. Dan Cîmpean– Director General, Romanian CERT-RO
  5. Rastislav Janota – Director, National Cyber Security Centre of the Slovak Republic
  6. Zdravko Jukić –Deputy Executive Director, HAKOM
  7. Elisabeth Koegler– Deputy Head, Department for Security Policy, Austrian Federal Ministry European and International Affairs
  8. Robert Kośla – Director, Department of Cybersecurity, Ministry of Digital Affairs, Poland
  9. Danail Nikolov– State Expert, Communications Regulations Commission of Bulgaria
  10. Matej Salmik –Director, Training, Awareness, Cooperation & Support Centre, National Cyber Security Centre SK-CERT
  11. Raul Volter – Lead Cyber Security Expert, Estonian Information Systems Authority
  12. Major Daniel Wurm – Cyber specialist, Ministry of Defense, Austria
  13. Sanita Žogota – Head of National Cybersecurity Policy Coordination Section, Ministry of Defence of Latvia

The Kosciuszko Institute:

  1. Izabela Albrycht– Chair, The Kosciuszko Institute; President, Organising Committee of the European Cybersecurity Forum – CYBERSEC
  2. Przemysław Roguski– Lecturer, Chair of Public International Law, Jagiellonian University; Expert of the Kosciuszko Institute
  3. Barbara Sztokfisz– CYBERSEC Programme Director 

Comments are disabled.