5G Networks, NATO, and the Risk of Increased Vulnerability

Sweden stands at the threshold of two enormous paradigm shifts: 5G networks and NATO membership, all while facing a greater digital threat than ever. Swedish digital naivety may prove costly as the historically non-aligned country enters the military alliance, potentially gaining a host of enemies.

Bjørn Ivar Moen, CEO Telenor Sweden, and Peter Hellgren, CEO at Consid and host of Digitala influencer-podden.

The digital Sweden aims for speed via 5G while simultaneously enhancing security. The Norwegian telecom giant, Telenor, plays a key role in this process.

– The licenses for the frequencies needed to expand 5G were delayed in Sweden due to the desire for additional time for security reasons, explains Bjørn Ivar Moen, Telenor’s CEO in Sweden, in the latest episode of Consid’s Digital Influencer Podcast.

Telenor has been actively involved in the debate on 5G and the continued digitalization of Sweden, including criticizing the Swedish Armed Forces.

– Many of the locations where we need to build require permits from the Armed Forces, and the process needs to be efficient, but it isn’t. It doesn’t proceed as quickly as it should; we often face refusals and significant delays in handling the entire matter, Moen adds.

The 5G network becomes a vital part of Sweden’s security infrastructure, creating a paradox, according to Bjørn Ivar Moen.

– Norway and Sweden share Europe’s longest common border, are neighboring countries, culturally and linguistically close, major trading partners, and are now part of the same defense alliance. The paradox arises from the fact that some of the rules intended to strengthen Sweden’s security actually require the separation of networks, ostensibly enhancing Sweden’s security.

Isn’t it beneficial to have critical functions, such as 5G-related personnel functions, on Swedish soil during turbulent times?

– At the same time, one must consider that Sweden is heading into NATO. This means that we also need to make cooperation work at the cyber level, making it easier to certify experts between countries, where it is efficient and appropriate. Today’s rules make it very demanding, says Moen.

How do you perceive the focus on security among companies?

–We see that customers expect us, as an operator, to assist with security issues. Firstly, we must have control over our own network, but then we believe it is natural to offer security products.

Swedish cybersecurity readiness is considered low, at least according to the companies themselves.

– In our surveys, we see that a slightly lower percentage of Swedish companies believe they can detect and defend against such incidents compared to neighboring countries,” says Bjørn Ivar Moen, pointing to a potential improvement in the problem:

– Stockholm and Sweden have a fantastic environment for innovation and startups—excellent! Let’s build on that! Let’s build on that with the major companies and stimulate the emergence of new startups that, together with established ones, can help raise the security level.

The Digital Influencer Podcast is released on Thursdays and is available wherever podcasts are found.

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