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The UK’s telecommunications infrastructure is in need of stronger cyber-security, experts say, following a lack of clarity over the use of Huawei technology in Britain’s 5G networks.

In his address at a cyber security meeting in Brussels yesterday, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) head, Ciaran Martin, urged big players in the telecom industry to encourage better security standards to help in the struggle against online criminal behaviour.

“We must have higher standards of cyber security across the entire telecommunications sector. The number one pre-condition for safe 5G is better cyber security,” Martin said, before pressing on the British government to introduce fresh regulation to bolster cyber welfare.

The GCHQ board member also underlined the crucial role competition will play in 5G suppliers markets to improve the digital health of the UK’s infrastructures in the face of inevitable attacks.

“Any company in an excessively dominant market position will not be incentivised to take cyber security seriously,” he said.

Mr Martin’s views arrive before the publishing of NCSC’s annual report into the security standards of Huawei technology. A decision has not yet been made, he said, on whether the Chinese company’s technology can be safely integrated with the 5G infrastructure here in Britain.

Mr Martin underlined how the NSCS is keeping a supervisory eye over Huawei, and that the green light will not be given unless assurances can be made.

“We will not compromise on the improvements we need to see from Huawei’s cyber security,” he said, before explaining how eventual deployment of Huawei equipment will come under strict controls. Mr Martin also said that the technology will not be used in sensitive networks such as those relied upon by the British government.

The comments come against a backdrop of international scrutiny over the safety of Huawei technology, which is banned in a number of countries due to concerns that China uses the firm to obtain foreign intelligence.

Huawei has said that it will look into the issues raised by the last report published by the NCSC, but that investigations could last for up to five years.

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