Shirley Lim, Channel Marketing Manager – APAC, VIAVI Solutions
The deployment of 5G networks will enable new advanced forms of data transmission that have never been possible previously, changing the way we communicate both personally and professionally. Businesses across all industries will benefit from the quicker data speeds that 5G technology will enable, however, it will have the biggest impact on industries that rely on field workers performing remote tasks for extended periods of time, such as repair technicians and industries such as manufacturing.
Businesses across a range of industries will adopt 5G technology in the next few years and should start the process of preparing for 5G rollout now. A key part of this preparation is putting defences in place to safeguard the organization from the new security challenges that will emerge as a result of the technology.
The Key Security Concerns Presented by 5G Technology
While 5G undeniably provides network communication improvements, the rollout of the technology brings with it a few key security concerns.
As 5G transmits a significantly higher amount of data per unit time, these networks become a more attractive target for cybercriminals attempting to infiltrate data. Additionally, malware can be downloaded to devices quicker on 5G networks, which presents a risk for business owners providing employees with connected devices. As such, communicating responsible device use with employees has become more important than ever before.
The deployment of 5G will also see use cases expanding. For many use cases that rely on low-latency communications, connection stability and reliability is paramount. For example, 5G may be used to power driverless vehicles or in complex surgeries, where an interruption in the connection could result in serious injury or death. In addition, operational issues may go unnoticed with the increasing use of automation powered by 5G technology. If no one in an organization is accountable for fixing ‘blind spots’ in business processes, the likelihood of a key issue being overlooked increases.
A further consideration for businesses deploying 5G technology is the new equipment, and set up of this equipment, that is required for network operation. This presents a significant investment in terms of both cost and time, as the equipment required is likely to take a long time to set up. Moreover, if a careless mistake is made during the set-up of the equipment, it can be difficult to rectify later, and these oversights can result in major issues down the road.
Finally, several network operators will opt for a transition period between 4G and 5G as opposed to an immediate switchover. This means any vulnerabilities that exist in the current 4G networks will carry over to the new 5G networks through the transition period.
How To Overcome the Security Challenges of 5G
The deployment of 5G technology essentially does not change the steps and processes businesses must take to protect their assets. Whether operating with 4G or 5G technology, it is always important for businesses to control what their users can do with business devices. It’s also necessary for businesses to carry out an evaluation as to the devices necessary for operations, rather than over-populating a workplace and employees with internet connected devices. However, with 5G the margin for error is much smaller, and the consequences of an issue are significantly higher.
With the deployment of 5G, companies should review their infrastructure to identify any organizational ‘blind spots’ that may leave the business open to cyber-attacks. Businesses should also ensure they are across any existing vulnerabilities in their 4G networks that may continue to affect legacy devices and networks. It is also essential for 5G devices to be managed with mobile device management software, in order to increase security. To protect devices utilizing 5G technology, businesses must source a device management solution that will scale with the needs of the organization, with particular focus on IoT.
In addition, it is important to remember that during the initial phase of global 5G rollout, your company may experience poor 5G coverage, particularly if it’s in a rural area. The business activities and management expectations should align with the 5G access that you have.
5G is more than an incremental network improvement. It will fundamentally transform and revolutionize a number of industries. Companies that invest in securing 5G infrastructure now are best positioned to succeed in the era of 5G.