WASHINGTON (Sept. 28, 2020)—We live in a digital world where we rely on technology in almost all our interactions—professional and personal. This has only expanded as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. When our most private information is communicated through online platforms, security is of the utmost importance. As we move towards widespread access to 5G technology, even more of our private details will exist online. In this environment, protecting our data through end-to-end encryption and upholding the Zero Trust model is the most responsible approach.

Policymakers and government officials have engaged in several actions that would undermine encryption in the name of “better law enforcement.” At the same time, the Trump administration has aggressively gone after the Chinese technology company, Huawei, in the name of protecting 5G networks. However, these two initiatives undermine one another as strong encryption would actually make 5G networks safer.

In a new report, former R Street director of National Security and Cybersecurity Jim Baker and resident fellow of National Security and Cybersecurity Kathryn Waldron argue that protecting the global, digital ecosystem is crucial to national security. Switching to a Zero Trust network paradigm is imperative to protecting the digital ecosystem. To truly adopt such an approach, the government needs to embrace strong encryption.

“The potential presence of untrustworthy or compromised equipment in global 5G networks themselves makes those networks risky in unfamiliar ways. And since people will never know exactly where untrustworthy or compromised equipment is present or exactly how their communications will be routed to or from the intended destination, everyone should assume that their communications and data—especially data that is transmitted outside the United States—could be exposed to bad actors at some point. Unfortunately, this means that the new best practice is to treat the internet itself as Zero Trust and rely heavily on strong encryption for all data transmitted, processed or stored anywhere on it,” said Baker and Waldron.

You can read the full policy study, “5G and Zero Trust Networks,” here.

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