5G is here to stay, and it’s set to shake up a lot of different industries. It brings a host of benefits, including super-fast speeds, reliability, efficiency and support for many more devices. However, these innovations will change the way we approach security, as 5G opens up many new opportunities for hackers.
This is a concern, as research firm Gartner predicts that 66 percent of organizations will adopt 5G by the end of 2020. And 59 percent of these businesses plan to use 5G to support the Internet of Things.
5G security on your radar
Full deployment of private 5G networks for enterprises will take some time, due to the significant investments required to upgrade infrastructure. However, in the meantime there are already cases of devices in the workplace operating on a 5G network, and an insecure private 5G network could put everyone’s privacy at risk.
"You absolutely have to have [5G security] on your radar right now," said Monique Becenti, channel and product specialist at cybersecurity provider SiteLock.
"If you're using a mobile device for banking transactions, you're leaving that susceptible to an attacker intercepting that data,'' she said. "With 5G, our main concern is with IoT innovations."
Becenti went on to point out that the IoT devices market isn't regulated, and is therefore not required to meet certain security requirements.
"Devices are open right now and susceptible…so there are more potential entry points for attackers,” she explained.
More insecure than 4G
According to the 2019 Brookings report, there are five ways in which 5G networks are more susceptible to cyberattacks, which are:
- 5G is no longer centralized, hardware-based but has switched to distributed, software-defined digital routing – cyber hygiene checks cannot be implemented
- Higher-level network functions are no longer physical but virtualized in software – this increases cyber vulnerability
- 5G networks are managed by software and so cannot be shutdown if a hacker gains control of the software, they have complete control of the network
- 5G has a huge increase in bandwidth, giving hackers additional areas to attack
- Billions of devices can be attached to an IoT network which provides huge levels of vulnerability
"To build 5G on top of a weak cybersecurity foundation is to build on sand," the Brookings report said. "This is not just a matter of the safety of network users, it is a matter of national security."
According to these experts, the responsibility falls on businesses to ensure that they are following best practices on cybersecurity, whilst closing any security holes that 5G and IoT may expose within new and existing networks.