Huawei passes first phase of GSMA 5G security tests

(Image credit: Future)

Mobile industry body the GSMA has confirmed that the world’s four leading telecoms equipment manufacturers have successfully passed the first phase of a new security assessment programme.

Ericsson and Nokia have both completed the independent audit, but significantly so too have Huawei and ZTE – Chinese vendors regarded as ‘high risk’ by several governments around the world.

While ZTE has a limited presence in the west, Huawei has become a major partner for mobile and broadband providers in Europe and beyond. However, the US government has long maintained that Huawei kit is a risk to national security because of perceived links to the Chinese state.

GSMA 5G tests

The US has yet to produce any evidence to support its claims and Huawei denies any allegations of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Washington has placed pressure on its allies to ban Huawei from rollouts of 5G, a course of action that the UK is now following.

Huawei itself advocates enhanced, standards-based security provisions for the entire ecosystem, something that has also been suggested by several governments.

The GSMA’s Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS) is viewed as vehicle to improve transparency and trust in telecoms equipment and is open to all vendors that support 3GPP standards.

The second phase of testing will see vendors submit network gear to qualified test labs for evaluation. Each vendor will receive a report which can then be shared with customers and stakeholders to prove that this equipment adheres to industry and government security practices.

“The GSMA recognises the support and participation of Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE who have satisfied the scheme’s security requirements via an independent security audit and we congratulate them on achieving this important first step,” said Alex Sinclair, GSMA CTO.

“By committing to NESAS, vendors are helping network operators, and other stakeholders make informed decisions about secure product development. We look forward to others participating in the scheme, evidencing their commitment to good security practice by promoting a security-by-design culture within the industry.”

A seal of approval from the GSMA may not be enough to reverse the UK’s position just yet, but it could prevent other governments from following suit. Indeed, Huawei says the assessment proves the integrity of its technology and security practices.

“In the 5G era, NESAS provides a standardized and effective cyber security assessment, which allows the communications industry to ensure fairness,” declared Devin Duan, Head of 5G E2E Cybersecurity Marketing at Huawei.

“The Assessment is also a valuable reference for stakeholders, such as operators, equipment vendors, government regulators, and application service providers. Huawei has always focused on technology-driven cyber security. We welcome NESAS with full support and collaboration. We also invite the entire industry to jointly promote the development of a more aligned mobile communications market.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.