FSB proposed to release Russian SIM-cards and use domestic cryptography for 5G

    At the December meeting of the working group on the information infrastructure of the national project "Digital Economy", an unexpected proposal was made by a representative of the FSB , Vedomosti reports, citing an anonymous participant in the meeting.

    The officer proposed using his own cryptographic infrastructure in 5G networks, that is: 1) domestic crypto-encryption according to GOST; 2) SIM-cards with support for domestic crypto-encryption.

    Since foreign SIM-cards do not meet the standards for cryptography, the release of SIM-cards will have to be established in Russia.

    In the illustration: the algorithm scheme GOST 28147-89

    In the long term, a representative of the FSB also proposed replacing equipment at base stations and other telecommunications equipment - with analogues produced in Russia.

    The proposal of the FSB is still difficult to consider seriously, because it is only made orally and not documented. Neither the name nor the position of the “representative of the FSB” who made such a statement is known, as well as the source of information also remains anonymous.

    In a commentary for the Vedomosti newspaper, the experts explained that none of the above proposals was included in the concept that the Digital Economy Infrastructure Working Group discussed on December 20, 2018.

    But the fact of such a proposal was: it was recorded in the minutes of the December meeting.

    Some players in the market fear that the “proposal” of the FSB is a hidden form of pressure when companies are given the tacit conditions necessary to obtain permission to deploy 5G networks. It has been previously reported that there is not enough frequencies for all operators, therefore, state intervention is indispensable . In other words, the state has a powerful lever of pressure to achieve favorable terms for a compromise solution.

    To deploy 5G networks, it is necessary to free up the frequencies that are now owned by the Ministry of Defense and Roskosmos. Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov said that the government would spend "tens of billions of rubles" for these purposes. Even after this, there are not enough frequencies for everyone, so operators will have to use them together within the framework of a single infrastructure operator 5G.

    Experts note that the development of 5G networks is important not only for people, but also for the authorities: “To understand the importance of introducing 5G networks, just look at the US-China conflict on this basis,” said Anton Bykov, principal analyst at the Center for Analytics and Financial Technologies. - In both countries they understand that 5G is the near future of digital infrastructure, on the basis of which new sectors of the economy will be built. The country that will control the transmission channels of the “raw material of the future,” information, will receive an undeniable competitive advantage. This is one of the reasons why the United States is trying to limit the capabilities of high-tech Chinese companies and promote their manufacturers of equipment for 5G networks. ”

    On the website of public procurement there is information about a closed tender for 3 million rubles, which in August 2018 announced the military unit of the FSB. The participants of the competition should “develop the requirements for IT security of the fifth generation networks based on Russian cryptoalgorithms, SIM cards and equipment - subscriber and network”.

    According to the state procurement website, the FSB was supposed to sum up the results of the competition in September, and the winner should have completed the research in December 2018. However, the site does not report the results of the competition. Perhaps the information is classified.

    Telecommunication equipment

    While the FSB is engaged in a cryptographic part, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Rostec form the program for creating equipment for fifth-generation networks on the domestic component base, a ministry spokesman said in a commentary to the Vedomosti newspaper. According to him, Russian companies "can already close equipment requirements at the corporate level of access to the network and partially at the level of operators."

    The representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade emphasized that special attention should be paid to the design of base stations.

    According to experts, the transition to Russian cryptography and domestic equipment will be expensive: the equipment of each base station will probably have to be certified according to the requirements of the FSB for encryption.

    According to Cisco security specialist Alexey Lukatsky, it is unlikely that the international standards of SIM-cards will contribute to the support of Russian cryptography.

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