5G rollout will 'make things better' for cybersecurity, according to Verizon

Key Points
  • The rollout of 5G could "make things better" on the cybersecurity front, according to Verizon's Chris Novak.
  • Novak's comments come amid increasing scrutiny on companies seeking to win contracts to develop 5G networks, with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei chief among the firms under the spotlight.
An illuminated 5G sign hangs behind a weave of electronic cables on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019.
Angel Garcia | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The impending rollout of the next generation 5G wireless standard could be a boon for cybersecurity, according to an expert from Verizon.

"I actually think that the 5G rollout ... will actually make things better," Chris Novak, global director of the Threat Research Advisory Center at Verizon, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.

"I think there is a lot of research and development that we've done and I know others have done as well to make sure that 5G doesn't just bring speed and reliability, but also that it's done in a secure manner and addresses any of those kinds of concerns," Novak said.

Novak's comments come amid increasing scrutiny on companies seeking to win contracts to develop 5G capabilities for national networks. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is chief among the firms under the spotlight as the U.S. seeks to dissuade America's allies from purchasing its equipment, with claims that the firm is "too close to the government."

Recent moves by the U.S. have reportedly resulted in major tech companies limiting their employees' access to Huawei. On May 16, the U.S. Department of Commerce put Huawei on a blacklist, barring it from doing business with American companies without government approval, then a few days later it authorized firms to interact with Huawei in standards bodies through August "as necessary for the development of 5G standards."

For its part, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration appears to have a conflicting stance on Huawei.

Trump told CNBC on Monday that Huawei could be part of the U.S. trade negotiation with China, contradicting remarks by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told CNBC on Sunday that Washington's concerns surrounding the telecommunications behemoth are "national security" issues separate from trade.

On the subject of whether banning perceived bad actors from developing 5G networks would reduce the likelihood of data breaches, Novak said: "To be honest, it's not even just the espionage element. In reality, the bigger percentage of that pie is actually financially motivated breaches."

"If you actually roll back and look at the last decade, we've got almost about a half million security incidents that we've looked at over the course of that research," he said. "While espionage plays a role in things and I think that's kind of fired up a lot of the conversation here, I think ultimately there's a lot of other facets to what we see happening in the cybersecurity and data breach landscape."

— Reuters and CNBC's Kate Fazzini contributed to this report.