Huawei Australia Chief Technology and Cyber Security Officer David Soldani has warned that Australia risks facing serious issues with the rollout of 5G and future 6G technology unless new policies are brought in to tackle concerns around cyber-security.

“The current approach being taken towards cyber-security on 5G mobile networks solves absolutely nothing – and that will be exposed further in 6G,” he told the Emerging Innovation Summit in Melbourne

“Blocking companies from certain countries does nothing to make Australia any safer from cyber-security issues – in fact it just makes things worse because they are not addressing the real issues on cyber-security,” Soldani added, noting that although future 6G networks could deliver huge potential for new applications and services, this would also involve extra risks.

“The way that future 6G networks are designed means that the attack surface is larger for potential attacks as the traditional network boundaries and security control zone become ever wider,” he continued. ““In addition, with the converge of management and control plane, AI will poses a significant impact on network security, as it might be exploited to launch more effective attacks, and in some scenarios, the security of AI systems is a matter of life and death.”

Soldani said that unlike security vulnerabilities in traditional systems, the root cause of security weaknesses in machine learning systems centers on the lack of “explicability, which leaves openings that can be exploited by adversarial machine learning methods such as evasion, poisoning, and backdoor attacks.”

“Attackers may also implant backdoors in models and launch targeted attacks or extract model parameters or training data from query results,” he said.

Soldani called on policymakers to take note of a recent statement by the ‘Five Eyes’ countries of the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, calling for a new way to deal with cyber-security.

“The communique from the Five Eyes was absolutely clear that countries need to ensure entire supply chains are trusted and reliable to protect our networks from unauthorized access or interference,” he said. “This means there is absolutely no point in simply banning companies from certain countries.

Soldani said this, in fact, made Australia less secure “because it means we have to then increase our reliance on just one or two other vendors – neither of whom are having their equipment tested.”

Soldani also pointed out that the Five Eyes communique had stressed the need for the introduction of an evidence-based risk assessment to underpin the implementation of agreed-upon principles for setting international standards for securing cyber networks.

“Unless Australia changes it approach and adopts a standards and certification led approach to security then it will simply sleepwalk into a world of cyber-security problems in both 5G and 6G for which it is totally unprepared,” he said.