Imagine lightning-fast multi-Gbps peak data speeds, zero latency, enormous network capacity, and a uniform user experience regardless of the physical location of your device. Thanks to the 5G wireless technology, this fantasy of avid data consumers is on the verge of turning into a full-fledged reality as 5G compatible devices slowly make their way into the mainstream markets. By unlocking a new realm of technological possibilities, the global wireless standard is also expected to accelerate the shift toward Industry 4.0, the industrial Internet of Things. However, as promising as it sounds, the prospects of mass adoption of 5G poses the looming threat of an unprotected infrastructure coupled with new-fangled cybersecurity risks. To curtail these issues, the 5G Clean Network initiative was recently shaped into existence by the U.S. Department of State.
History and Background of the 5G Clean Network
To safeguard the data assets of citizens worldwide and cloud pipelines of the US from the potential threats of 5G, the U.S. Department of State announced The Clean Network Initiative on April 29, 2019. This initiative encourages a global digital alliance whereby member countries accept digital trust standards and abide by them, while the non-trustworthy telecommunication providers are excluded from this list. This is done to safeguard illegal intrusions from malicious actors such as the Chinese Communist Party and its surveillance and data collection tools including Huawei and ZTE, which are their most prominent network equipment developers.
The main premise behind a Clean 5G network is to create a network that is pristine from top to bottom – from clean telco equipment, clean stores, apps, clouds to clean cables including the under-sea cables interconnecting the global world. Per the Department of State, certain Chinese communist apps threaten American democracy by infiltrating viruses, trample on privacy laws, censor content, and propagate misinformation. By blocking access to these apps, adversaries will not be able to lay their hands-on military secrets and valuable research information. Per this clean initiative, all 5G network traffic entering and exiting the U.S. will have to follow a clean path. This path is an end-to-end communication path that does not make use of any computing, transmission, control, or storage equipment from untrusted IT providers including Huawei and ZTE. Many trusted nations were encouraged to join this initiative by the US, and they obliged. Key examples include countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden, Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Denmark, Latvia, Greece, and Brazil. Many large telecommunication organizations are also turning “clean” including Orange in France and Jio in India, Telstra in Australia, etc.
On the same token, this initiative of safeguarding the 5G network brings into limelight the competition between China and the U.S. in terms of the development of the 5G wireless network. Despite many earlier forecasts declaring China’s lead over the US in creating the 5G space, U.S has now gained momentum. According to Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, there is no doubt that the U.S. will win this race of 5G dominance. At a panel at ACT-IAC’s annual ELC conference, he said: “We really own the cloud space. So we should be able to have that next generation of technology that is going to be just built on top of cloud to get us the diversity in an open, competitive global market of trustworthy, dependable componentry.”
How Exium is Standing Up to the 5G Clean Network Challenge
Exium, an American full-stack cybersecurity and 5G clean networking organization was launched with one goal in mind – to meet the increasingly demanding end-to-end security standards of communications set forth by the the US, EU and other freedom-loving nations. On January 5th, 2021, Exium premiered its robust 5G clean network as a service that guarantees secure end-to-end connectivity between virtually any device on the cloud. Exium’s 5G network service is built on an open, programmable, reliable, and software-driven Intelligent Cybersecurity Mesh™ that is obscured from the public internet yet connects anything, anywhere with end-to-end encryption to mitigate a variety of threats.
In keeping up with its pledge of security, Exium’s network and cloud security platforms are rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards such as the Criteria for Security and Trust in Telecommunications Networks and Services developed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) – Working Group on Trust and Security in 5G Networks, the Prague Proposals, and the European Union’s 5G Toolbox. Boasting internationally acclaimed digital trust standards with secure end-to-end communication paths that stay clear of any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment from untrusted IT vendors, Exium is quickly becoming one of the leading providers of optimized security on the cloud. The company stands out from the crowd by providing all services on home-grown clean hardware, clean software, and cloud-based systems that are exclusively operated by US companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google (FedRAMP certified).
However, Exium’s barrage of security and meeting of digital trust standards does not end here. To further extend safety and security for its clean network customers, Exium incorporates the hardware-root-of-trust in all its offerings. If we examine the Apple products, hardware security is only offered for some of its services like biometric data, for Face or Touch ID, as well as Apple Play data. However, Exium extends hardware security to all applications and cloud services. By providing high-grade encryption that is deeply rooted in hardware, Exium ensures that every single bit of data transmitted over the network is protected and secured.
According to Farooq Khan, the CEO of Exium:
“There are considerable rewards for successful 5G leadership. There is a huge opportunity in the 5G rollout process that is considered fluid. For example, in 2019, the U.S. government banned the use of any 5G technology developed by Huawei. Later, many other Western nations followed suit, worried that the Chinese government can use Huawei equipment to spy on their sensitive networks. The Department of Commerce singled out Huawei on its list of companies considered as high risk to U.S. national security. These sanctions prohibit Huawei from selling to U.S. companies and highlight the apparent shortage of American firms that might fill the void. These are the urgent national security and societal technology problems we solve.”
Exium launched as a startup with the goal of serving businesses that are increasingly demanding the same end-to-end security standards that the government requires for its communications. The company’s network and cloud security platform thus meets the requirements outlined by the State Department’s initiative on the “Clean Network”. The initiative is intended to create a 5G infrastructure for the US that is completely free from components built by untrusted entities from adversary states such as China.
Per the Clean Network standard, Exium’s 5G network is rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards and is a reflection of America’s commitment to an open, interoperable, and secure global internet based on shared democratic values and respect for human rights. It creates secure end-to-end communication paths that do not use any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment from untrusted IT vendors.
Understanding Exium’s 5G Clean Network
Capable of meeting the requirements of millions of connections to data-intensive applications, Exium’s 5G Clean Network is truly intended for 5G deployments that facilitate enterprise and industrial automation. This not only gives customers an edge with a revolutionary and fully managed cloud-based 5G network but also reshapes mobile experiences, boost the manufacturing industry with new and more powerful digital capabilities leading to smarter manufacturing opportunities. Exium’s 5G Clean Network is a glance into the future which will connect smart cities, spearhead cleaner energy, transform the automotive industry, and elevate the construction and mining applications.
The company’s Intelligent Cybersecurity Mesh™ leverages US dominance in the cloud space and runs on FedRAMP-compliant public cloud infrastructure from AWS, Azure and Google. As a result, the technology works from a globally distributed architecture that compromises more than 75 public cloud regions and hundreds of points of presence (POPs) in order to provide secure low latency 5G services worldwide. Low latency is critical for 5G applications like extended reality and industrial robots.
Exium’s 5G clean network service is available globally on six continents. The service is device and network agnostic, and users can benefit from 5G clean network security and privacy on 4G, WiFi, Fiber, Cable or even Satellite networks. The service natively works with 5G devices without requiring any software updates. For non-5G devices, including Windows and Mac computers, a 5G software app is required.
Why a US-based startup?
Exium considers itself a disruptive technology start-up. Its mission is to compete for dominance in a powerful and lucrative new secure 5G services landscape. Khan founded the company to develop home-grown 5G clean network technology and services that could eliminate dependence on non-U.S. players for the nation’s critical infrastructure. Prior to Exium, Khan pioneered high-frequency millimeter wave technology that became the foundation for US leadership in 5G data speeds.
The stakes of the 5G tech race
The U.S. can gain so much if it delivers a majority of 5G and everything involved with bringing the technology to market. For instance, according to research from the GSMA, in 2018 mobile technologies and services contributed $3.9 trillion to GDP worldwide and supported nearly 32 million jobs. An IHS Markit study estimates that $13.2 trillion in global economic value will be made possible by 2035, generating 22.3 million jobs in the 5G global value chain alone.
“5G is a valuable prize,” Khan added. “But, in my opinion, the U.S. is not doing enough to secure it using homegrown technology. And if we continue to rely on foreign vendors, we will miss out on important economic opportunities and leave our country vulnerable to security risks.” The U.S. does have one advantage. American firms own the cloud space and dominate virtually every key link in the global Internet industry chain, including operating systems, chip design and software. Exium doubles down on this strength by creating 5G clean network layer on top of the cloud and global Internet backbone infrastructure built and operated by US companies.
As the industry saw with the last generation of wireless, the first country to deploy new technology reaps significant and long-lasting benefits. The U.S. was first to launch 4G LTE networks, and because of the high data speeds they provided, companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb got a head start to build innovative platforms that continue to disrupt their industries. Exium expects 5G to change people’s daily lives even more dramatically than 4G did, so the company predicts that another wave of revolutionary startups will follow. Such tech developments, both in wireless infrastructure and in new businesses, will result in new job creation.
The Risks of Inaction
It’s inherently risky for the U.S. to depend on foreign vendors for its critical infrastructure. 5G won’t just be powering smartphones. It will power industrial innovation—and there are serious cybersecurity concerns that come with it. “Do we want to outsource the responsibility for that equipment to companies based outside the U.S.?” Khan asked. He added, “The economic and leadership possibilities accompanying 5G also can’t be overstated. From AI to IoT, new verticals will emerge from this next chapter in wireless technology. U.S. companies have been tech trailblazers for decades. It’s time to rise to the challenge to maintain that identity.”
Envisioning a world with zero lag, no buffering, consistent data streaming on devices, and superb cell phone coverage is not farfetched from reality anymore, thanks to the 5th generation of wireless technology. The US Department of State’s 5G Clean Network initiative is further elevating this technology to the next level by ensuring that the global infrastructures are equipped to tackle the potential security concerns that might arise with the mass adoption of 5G. To accelerate the progress of this goal, many U.S based companies are working per the digital trust standards set forth by this initiative. A budding startup, Exium, is illuminating the path to clean 5G by offering an open, programmable, reliable, and software-driven Intelligent Cybersecurity Mesh that can connect anything, anywhere with superior end-to-end encryption capabilities.