Human civilization is built on the bedrock of human ingenuity coupled with technological innovation. From the invention of the wheel to creating the World Wide Web, technology continues to transform our lives. In the last 20 years, nothing has had a more profound impact on us than mobile networks. Now, connectivity is taken for granted. Markets have expanded, and the world is more closely knit than ever before.
The Underlying Risk
5G is reimagining what communication networks look like and are capable of providing significant advantages over the previous four generations, be it latency, speed, coverage, or IoT device performance.
Technology has always been a double-edged sword. And, 5G is no different. As it makes driverless automobiles, autonomous industries, and ubiquitous drones possible – network security will become our weak link. With more IoT devices networked at significantly higher speeds via 5G, the impact of botnet-based DDoS attacks will inevitably increase. Cybercriminals will now have far more bandwidth at their disposal to hack into less secure networks.
Breaking All Chains
5G is fast. Unimaginably fast.
One comparison showed that 5G would save consumers 23 hours (almost one day) per month in loading time across social media, gaming, and music/video streaming sites.
While 4G is more mobile phone centric, 5G’s low latency and high capacity make it an ideal connecting medium for a range of different devices such as drones and sensors in a product or machine. As a result, the healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and entertainment industries will see substantial technological advancement. In addition, with 5G powering the adoption of IoT, businesses will be more connected than ever before. For example:
- Manufacturing: 42% of unplanned downtime is due to equipment failure. Connected factories will enable businesses to produce more in less time, meaning a more affordable product for the consumer.
- Retail: shops are increasingly shutting down their physical presence and moving online. 5G will enable retailers to build more dynamic websites, which will significantly improve the customer experience.
- Automotive: advances in 5G and IoT has seen driverless vehicles become a reality.
- Healthcare: the speed and reliability of 5G will see more healthcare businesses transition to the cloud to keep sensitive patient data accessible, leading to faster medical services and better patient outcomes.
The Mirror Effect
5G creates practically endless possibilities and ushers in an AI-powered world. But it also reveals hitherto unseen quantities of vulnerabilities.
5G networks are software-managed, which makes them vulnerable. A system constructed on software interfaces would always be prone to hacking. Furthermore, the protocols employed in virtualizing these services are globally understood and accessible. Anyone capable of manipulating these programs can seize control of everything and create damages.
Then, compared to 3G and 4G networks, the 5G network is open and scattered, introducing a new set of cybersecurity challenges. In addition, decentralization with the complete removal of network’ choke points’ makes the infrastructure significantly more difficult to police.
The Choice to Make
As 5G becomes the standard, IoT will boom. Soon we shall witness entire cities connected in seamless quiet communication. However, when billions of devices are connected to a 5G network, and each of those devices has a wide range of applications, cyberattack vectors become virtually limitless.
With more connected devices, we will have created a much larger attack surface for cybercriminals. As a result, a managed SIEM service or the expertise of a Security Operations Centre will become essential to protect a business’s infrastructure.
The threat is real! So, what should we do?
The rapid expansion of 5G needs a new approach to cyber security. But, for now, we need to be aware of the possibilities and incumbent threat of 5G as it rolls out across the world.