5G is more than just better data rates

On this edition of Cyber Chat, h ost Sean Kelley sits down with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) to discuss the rollout of 5G Technologies, the implications of the technology and what that means for cyber security.

Mike Rogers is the former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and now serves as the Chairman of 5G Action Now. In Congress, Chairman Rogers oversaw the Intelligence Community’s $70 billion budget that funded the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies. Before being elected to represent Michigan in the House of Representatives, he was an FBI special agent and member of the U.S. Army. Today, he hosts the CNN originals series Declassified, regularly appears on various TV and radio shows, and frequently contributes to major print outlets. Congressman Rogers is also a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center where he is leading a program on 5G, national security and intelligence policy.

When asked about all the fuss about 5G Networks, the Congressman said 5G will fundamentally change our relationship with the internet, but he also admitted that the full impact of 5G is not fully understood. He also shared that we are “still trying to figure out all of these in terms of the internet of things, all of these devices that are going to make better, faster, quicker decisions, more productivity safer.” He further explained that the volume of data that 5G will be able to move is also critically important. The Congressman said “it really is kind of mind blowing how the efficiency and productivity is going to happen because of greater speeds, less latency.”

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The Congressman did express there is a global effort for 5G dominance. When asked why there’s this talk about winning the race is like an arms race in 5G with China or other foreign countries — why is that so important? He responded that “China realized this a while ago, and they put out their planning and they’re very public about this by the way that they want to be data dominant in the world by 2025. China has been really aggressive about getting out there and trying to make sure they win contracts for this next technology.” The Congressman said that he believes China is course correcting because they feel they missed the opportunity when 4G networks were introduced. The United States benefited along with other western countries from 4G technologies and China is determined to be better positioned with 5G technologies.

The conversation shifted to how China’s dominance can impact cyber security. The Congressman shared that there is concern about the security implications of using Chinese Technology and the social impact and the political impact of allowing China to have access to that much data, including US citizen’s data that could be compromised.

Due to the understanding that we don’t know the full capabilities of 5G, do we know the vulnerabilities? The Congressman says “we know that there are security vulnerabilities in 5G just like there are security vulnerabilities in any network you put together, any computer network you put together and so it’s a huge topic. The good news is it seems like we were ahead of the discussions going into 5G from where we were on 4G. We are at least cognizant that this technology introduces a whole new level of challenges for our security.” When asked can we get ahead of it versus having to reacting to it? He does see a lot of that happening and believes the government also understands that there are security needs, they’re working with some folks to understand this better and reduce vulnerabilities and threats.