Exclusive interview with Bruce McConnell:
Cybersecurity in 5G era - China and America need to lead by example

2021-October-22 16:05 By: GMW.cn

Bruce McConnell is the President and CEO of the EastWest Institute. He endeavors to reduce and mitigate security conflict among nations and increase the safety, security and stability of life in cyberspace.

Here we spoke with Bruce McConnell to give us some insights into international cooperation on cybersecurity in the 5G era.

Guangming Online: What do you think are the key features and benefits of 5G technology?

Bruce McConnell: 5G enables widespread digitalization and the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G has the potential to support increased innovation and economic development, and it increases digital mobility which has proven very important during the pandemic. 

Guangming Online: You’ve talked about the risks along with benefits that 5G would bring to the environment at the WIC Forum on 5G Empowerment. As we know, 5G network will introduce a series of key technologies, such as virtualization, Software Defined Network (SDN) and OpenFlow Protocol. How will these underlying technologies in 5G network affect cybersecurity? Will the 5G cyber risks be fundamentally different from those of its 4G predecessor?

Bruce McConnell: I think the risks are not fundamentally different, but there are new risks caused by complexity, scale and the interactivity of thousands of different components. These factors create a risk of network failure which could cause harm to the businesses and individuals which depend on the 5G network for their livelihood. 

Guangming Online: In 5G deployment, the concept of “security-by-design” was put forward to stress the need of designing a secure 5G architecture from the start. Compared to 4G, does 5G require a set of new approaches to cybersecurity?

Bruce McConnell: The biggest difference with 5G is the movement of networking power to the edge as opposed to the core. It is no longer a hub-and-spoke network. It is more like a peer-to-peer network so security becomes a very local issue. We are not used to thinking about cyber security that way. The focus has traditionally been on the central nodes of the network. 

Guangming Online: How do you see the development of 5G in China?

Bruce McConnell: Certainly, 5G technology that has come from China is very powerful and advanced. I think what will work best is if all countries do what they do well and the rest of us can benefit from the combination of technologies that is available. I have no doubt that China will have a strong 5G network.

Guangming Online: As you mentioned before, different cultures and political systems will nourish different values. Country-specific differences also occur in cyberspace when it comes to the perceptions of cyber sovereignty, information security, cyber freedom and cyber human rights. Under this circumstance, how can China and the U.S. promote consensus on common governance of cyberspace?

Bruce McConnell: We should start with what we agree on. Both countries have already agreed at the United Nations to principles of responsible behavior in cyberspace. These include not attacking critical infrastructure, including the internet itself and punishing international cybercriminals who are operating from inside their own territories. These informal rules of the road need to be made binding by a formal agreement and the nations need to follow them. That would be a good start. Looking ahead we can imagine there will be many issues between China and the U.S., but in today's world, cooperation and competition are both needed and we should move to balance them. 

Guangming Online: This year, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to WIC and noted that China is also willing to work with other countries in the world to make the digital civilization benefit people of all countries, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for humankind.

As you see it, how will China and the U.S. deepen cooperation on cybersecurity and work together to move towards a shared future in cyberspace?

Bruce McConnell: Cooperation must begin with small steps. We need to start working on things we already agree on. We also need to cooperate on helping developing countries understand and benefit from cyberspace. The human species is in great danger from disease and climate change. Times is short and we must all work harder to make the future better. China and America need to lead by example to create a global change in attitude. 

Editor: WXL
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