Jeremy Fleming, Director GCHQ, defined the rules and ethics of the cyber age during a keynote speech in Singapore.
The speech – part of the Fullerton Lecture series run by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) – highlighted the new ground being broken as the UK develops cyber-capabilities, grapples with cybersecurity and builds the skills and rules the country needs for the cyberage.
Speaking on February 25, the Director explored the concept of cyberpower – what that requires of a country and the rules, regulations and ethics needed to exercise such power responsibly.
Fleming went on to describe 5G as one of the most important and impactful technologies of this or any era. He said it will be a catalyst for technological change and will transform the way we think about how our data is being used.
Fleming touched on the most charged part of the current global technology debate – 5G and in particular, the role of Huawei.
He said: “The UK has not made a decision about 5G security supply chain rules,” said Fleming.
“GCHQ is at the heart of the policy consideration underway and we already have a role managing Huawei’s presence in our existing networks.
“We think this is probably the toughest oversight regime in the world. It’s revealed significant problems with [Huawei’s] cybersecurity practice which have caused [the company] to commit to a multi-million-pound remedial programme.
“And as I’m sure you will have seen, we’ve been crystal clear that with Huawei we will not compromise on the improvements we expect.
“5G security is about more than just Huawei, that’s what the three pre-conditions for 5G security are all about.
“The final thing I’ll say here is that China’s place in the era of globalised technology is much bigger than just one telecommunications equipment company – it’s a first order strategic challenge.”
His comments in regard to 5G came after a discussion and definition of cyber power and its influence on the situation.
He suggested: “A nation is a cyber power if it is able to direct or influence the behaviour of others in cyberspace in three main ways: One – it has to be world class in safeguarding the cyber health of its citizens, businesses and institutions – it must protect the digital homeland. Two – it has to have the legal, ethical and regulatory regimes to foster public trust – without which we do not have a license to operate in cyberspace. And three – when the security of its citizens are threatened, it has to have the ability – in extremis and in accordance with international law – to project cyberpower to disrupt, deny, or even destroy.”
He concluded his speech by saying: “So, cyberpower is about defending our digital homeland, having the right capabilities to actively protect our interests if we need to.
“It’s about having strong alliances; growing connections; boosting collaboration; finding ways to encourage openness and collaboration between people and nations to rewrite the rules of engagement for our digital future; to share ideas and work together for stability and prosperity.
“Cyberpower is also about having the right technical expertise to use cyberpower well and having the right legal and ethical base to use it wisely.
“It’s also about embracing the unexpected and seeing into the future.
“The UK is a global cyberpower with the potential to provide leadership in this debate.
“GCHQ is at the heart of that and will make sure the opportunities presented by this cyber future are fully realised.”