04.10.2019Policy

Verizon’s approach to 5G security

By: Craig Silliman
Man in front of computer screens

Verizon’s 5G mobile network went live last week in two cities, bringing to life for our customers there the promise and potential of a new digital world. Amid the excitement, though, there are some who raise concerns about the security of the 5G environment, particularly about threats posed by the presence of equipment manufactured by Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE. I’d like to explain Verizon’s thinking on these issues, and the choices that we have made about our own networks.

Our approach is simple: we take the security of our networks as seriously as we do their reliability and speed. When we build our networks, we buy components only from trusted, long-time vendors who share our commitment to quality and security. We test the products and software that we put in the network, and we work to get security commitments from all of our vendors, large and small. We don’t use any Huawei or ZTE equipment in any of our core wireline or wireless networks, including our new 5G network. Our commitment to supply chain security isn’t limited to Chinese companies, and it far predates the current conversations about Huawei and ZTE.

Whatever choices are made by an individual operator or a given country, however, we all must be prepared to operate in a world with equipment from many different suppliers. As an operator of a global network, we connect to many other companies’ networks around the world, some of which may have made different choices in response to supply chain threats. That’s why we specifically architect our networks to mitigate any risk arising from those connections. We also realize that we don’t always control the choice of the devices (like handsets or routers) that our customers may connect at the periphery of our network. So we use network features, like a new 5G security tool that isolates devices until they are fully authenticated, to defeat any malicious activity at the network edge. The evolution toward a fully-realized 5G environment will bring even stronger security – more encryption, more defense at the edge, and greater potential for creating secure enclaves or “slices.” We intend to leverage all of these tools as the network develops.

In the United States, we see the government moving toward restrictions, or even an outright ban, on Chinese products in the critical infrastructure. At Verizon, we are already well positioned to comply with such restrictions. We are equally prepared to keep our customers safe when we connect with providers or operate in countries that approach the issues differently. We aren’t going to disengage anywhere. We are going to deliver secure and reliable experiences for our customers, wherever they need to go.

For related media inquiries, please contact story.inquiry@one.verizon.com

About the author(s): 

Craig Silliman is Verizon’s general counsel and executive vice president for public policy. He leads Verizon’s legal, regulatory, public policy, government affairs and security groups.

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