How can 5G Improve Security?

It comes as no surprise that remote working shot up in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the entire world to go into lockdown, but thanks to technology, the transition to “working from home” became smooth and easy. The mobile workforce is here to stay, but with this new era of flexibility, productivity, and convenience also come growing concerns over how to keep both enterprise and personal data secure. Especially with the advent of 5G, it is important to address existing security challenges without further delay!

How does 5G work?

The next generation of mobile networking uses many of the same underlying technology as earlier generations, but includes a unique encoding scheme that has a number of benefits. Moreover, 5G has primarily moved to software-defined networking, unlike 4G LTE that was used previously. This enables 5G to implement network slicing, where a network is divided into multiple isolated networks that can be tailored to the unique needs of a particular application. This new network architecture makes 5G more scalable and flexible than 4G LTE.

How does 5G change communication?

With the help of 5G, connections between devices are faster, substantially more scalable and have much lower latency as well. 5G essentially employs three frequency bands – low, mid, and high.

  • Low-bandwidth offers slow but broad wireless connectivity, which is ideal for rural areas.
  • Mid-bandwidth offers improved connectively speeds as compared to 4G at close range,which is known as enhanced mobile broadband or eMBB. It is apt for most electronics that enterprise workers use. This type of connectively enables mMTC, or massive machine-type communications. It means hundreds of Internet of Things (IoT) based devices can rely on 5G in a small space without overwhelming the infrastructure.
  • High-bandwidth connectivity is perhaps the most exciting addition that comes with 5G. It opens the door to URLLC, or ultra-reliable, low-latency communications. With extremely low latency, this type of connection can make remote surgeries possible for medical professionals who previously coundn’t rely on mobile technology and make rapid communication between self-driving cars much more logistically feasible, as well.

How does 5G impact businesses?

All industries benefit from faster data speeds, but there are specific sectors where 5G plays a transformative role. Anyone in these industries should be aware of the promise of 5G as soon as possible, so they can implement it immediately.

  • Industries that rely on field workers performing remote tasks for extended periods of time are immediately impacted by 5G. Quicker data speeds allow faster communication between workers and managers, which boost frontline worker productivity and safety. This impacts field service industry roles such as repair technicians, and industries like manufacturing that depend on physically intense warehouse work.
  • Low latency is all the more revolutionary in healthcare. Consider this: when surgeons can remotely view low-latency 8K video feeds of a surgical site, they should be able to remotely perform procedures with no loss of control, just like in-person surgeries. For any of the millions of patients who have used tele-health services during the pandemic, 5G will also offer a smoother and faster connection, ensuring that appointments take place successfully.
  • High-bandwidth cell towers have limited radius, but they will revolutionize the field of transportation. Self-driving cars can relay and receive information from other cars rapidly through the use of URLLC, making their use safer than ever.

How 5G will impact the network and cybersecurity world?

5G enables more devices to connect to mobile networks, reduces power requirements, and offers improved network performance and latency. It opens up the use of mobile networking to a number of different devices, which was previously not an option.

One of the biggest anticipated impacts of the introduction of 5G is an explosion in the use of IoT devices. With 5G, IoT devices can take advantage of mobile network connectivity with higher speeds and lower latency, and the design of 5G means that power consumption is lower. Additionally, 5G’s ability to support a much higher density of devices means that many IoT devices can be effectively deployed in a location without negatively impacting each others’ network connectivity. As a result, 5G makes the widespread deployment of IoT devices possible, especially in remote locations where traditional network connectivity is unavailable or expensive.

Time to talk about 5G and security concerns!

As mentioned above, 5G has the potential to make the world more connected than ever. Devices in locations without access to traditional broadband networks can be deployed using 5G network connectivity. Higher speeds, lower latency, and increased capacity also make it a potential option for devices where 4G LTE was not a viable option before. But, with this growth in systems connected to 5G networks also comes potential security implications. Businesses deploying 5G-connected devices need security solutions capable of monitoring and securing them against cyber threats.

What are the security challenges of 5G?

A few key security concerns are inevitable consequences of the improvements 5G provides. A data breach means significant recovery costs both in terms of time and money and a negative impact on corporate reputation, profit, operations, and even partners in the supply chain. Here are some of the concerns:

  • With a much greater amount of data being relayed per unit time, it is more rewarding for hackers to attempt data exfiltration on 5G networks. Workers who have free reign over their devices can also download malware faster than before, which means businesses have no margin of error for irresponsible device use.
  • More dependency on low-latency communications means that connection stability becomes non-negotiable.
  • When more devices start communicating with each other, companies are likely to automate several key processes. But automation magnifies pre-existing organizational flaws.
  • Companies adapting to 5G will have to acquire a substantial amount of new equipment, which presents a logistical challenge. It will take a long time to set up, which could result in careless mistakes – these oversights can cause major problems down the line.
  • Several networks are currently making the transition from 4G to 5G. It means the vulnerabilities present in 4G networks will be carried over to 5G networks too as long as the transition period lasts.
  • With 5G, the networks will only expand and become more usable by mobile users and devices. This means much more network traffic to manage. But without a robust wide area network (WAN) security solution like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in place, companies may not be able to gain the network traffic visibility required to identify abnormalities or attacks.
  • Presently, and for the foreseeable future, 5G supply chains are limited. Issues exist here as well, especially as devices are rushed to market, which increases potential for faulty and insecure components.

What are the benefits of 5G security?

The benefits of 5G-enabled security are numerous, including anti-tracking and spoofing features that prevent manipulation of individual device connections. 5G comes with new IP and cloud security standards that help to strengthen the security posture of networks. Managers can perform network slicing, as mentioned above, which means segmentation of several virtual networks so they can be managed and customized independently if required. Different “slices,” for example, could each have tailored protections for specific device types.

How can we overcome 5G security challenges?

Keep in mind that the new 5G technology doesn’t change what businesses must do to protect their assets, on a fundamental level. It reduces the room for error, and makes the consequences of failure much higher. Regardless of whether devices operate with 4G or 5G, it is always important to control what users can do with work-owned devices. It is also necessary to do a proof-of-concept before massively populating an office with IoT devices.

Another must is the need to inspect the company’s personnel infrastructure. Organizational “blind spots” can be your worst nightmare when it comes to data exfiltration. You should continue to monitor 4G-related vulnerabilities, as they could continue to affect legacy devices and networks.

As 5G devices become compatible with mobile device management software, it is essential to manage them this way to ensure the safety of devices. In order to protect the devices utilizing 5G technology, you have to find a device management solution that can scale with your organization’s needs. In particular, you should look for a solution that emphasizes IoT management. IoT devices have historically had poor security, creating potential gaps in an organization’s security and expanding its attack surface. With the growth of IoT usage due to the rise of 5G, organizations must deploy IoT security solutions to ensure their new devices are appropriately protected.

It is important to understand that 5G is more than simply an incremental improvement – it is actually fundamentally transformative for many industries. By taking time to secure 5G infrastructure, companies can position themselves to become leaders in the 5G era. Keeping network access and sensitive data flowing through the right hands instead of the wrong ones is a complex endeavor. Fortunately, 5G improves security drastically – it means robust security across countless solutions, industries and use cases.

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