gsma NESAS and MCKB bolster mobile cybersecurity

gsma NESAS and MCKB bolster mobile cybersecurity

NESAS cybersecurity

In 2024, over 100 countries worldwide have data protection or privacy legislation that impose requirements relating to cybersecurity. As the digital world becomes more interconnected and intelligent, cyberspace has become an integral part of our lives, businesses, and economies. New advanced digital technologies like 5G networks, cloud computing, big data, and AI create unprecedented new value for societies, yet our digital lives are becoming increasingly vulnerable.

With the accelerated deployment of 5G technology and its next generation, 5G-Advanced (5G-A), which was already announced this year by global vendors like Huawei, mobile networks are increasingly becoming the backbone of our digital life, drawing more attention from telecom regulatory authorities and operators in the region. Saudi Arabia and GCC countries were among the global leaders in the 5G deployment. To optimise the value of their 5G networks and continue offering the support all industries expect from them for their digital transformation, many operators in the region are planning to upgrade their 5G capabilities to 5G-Advanced (5G-A) in 2024.

Telecom is a critical component of national security, making it essential to bring together telecom stakeholders to promote the development and optimisation of telecom cybersecurity. Telecom regulators, operators, and organisations in the region are seeking cybersecurity standards and best practices to help them identify and implement appropriate measures to protect their networks, systems, and data from cyber threats. This required cross-sector collaboration includes working closely with telecom service providers, equipment manufacturers, government agencies, and other stakeholders.

At the recently concluded ‘Middle East and Central Asia ICT Policy and Governance Forum’ organised by GSMA and themed “Driving Policy and Innovation to Shape Our Digital Future,” mobile network security took centre stage. The forum brought together a wide range of stakeholders, including senior officials from GSMA, regulatory authorities, operators, Huawei, and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, to discuss industry policies, successful practices, and valuable insights on network security and key industry trends. The round table discussed the importance of spectrum, optical, and data communication policy planning and explored how carriers, enterprises, oversight agencies, and regulators can enhance mobile security capabilities and guide risk management strategies.

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The discussions also sought to promote the adoption of GSMA’s Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS) and Mobile Cybersecurity Knowledge Base (MCKB).

bolstering mobile network security strategies


Jawad Abassi, Head of MENA at GSMA, who moderated the roundtable discussion, said, “The GSMA regularly explores a range of security considerations including secure by design, 5G deployment models, and security activities. Good security practices and policies by industry suppliers are essential. The mobile ecosystem should empower advancing positive policy and spectrum outcomes, driving digital innovation to reduce inequalities in our world and tackling today’s biggest societal challenges.”

GSMA NESAS is a rigorous security framework covering some of the most vital aspects of national critical infrastructure.

It highlights the ability of network equipment vendors to meet and maintain security levels—from product development to lifecycle management processes. Specifically, it covers equipment that supports functions defined by 3GPP and is deployed by mobile network operators on their networks. NESAS is a trusted and proven standard for tracking records across the world.

GSMA has also created the Mobile Cyber Security Knowledge Base (MCKB) to increase trust in 5G networks and make the interconnected world as secure as possible. The Knowledge Base is regularly enhanced and extended to respond to the evolving cybersecurity threat landscape. It provides essential insights for stakeholders’ risk management strategy and offers clear instructions for taking step-by-step actions to build security assurance.

Jeff Wang, President of the Public Affairs and Communications Department at Huawei, noted the importance of focusing on enhancing connectivity, embracing digital applications, and empowering digital talent to fully reap digital dividends. The forum discussions provided recommendations for various countries in the region based on their specific needs and achievements, highlighting the need to improve optical fiber networks to ensure homes and offices have the speed and stability for these advancements. Lin Yanqing, Principal Consultant of Industry Policy Public & Government Affairs at Huawei Technologies, and Aloysious Cheang, Chief Security Officer at Huawei Middle East and Central Asia, reiterated that Huawei has taken a proactive approach to telecom cybersecurity standardisation.

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Cheang emphasized, “Cybersecurity is a team sport, and together with GSMA, we can leverage their good work, such as NESAS and MCKB, that will lay the foundation to secure broadband, 5G, 5G-A, and beyond.”

The forum underscored the collective commitment to enhancing mobile network security and setting international standards that ensure the robustness and reliability of digital infrastructure in an increasingly interconnected world.


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