The expectation around 5G has encouraged many enterprises to look forward to increases in speed, reduced latency, and improved capacity, but there is a downside to this potential. Leading voices in cyber security warn that there could be an opportunity for hackers to also grab hold of the benefits of 5G and use it to create new ways to attack network security.
The threat of increased or novel attack methods has enterprise executives taking note and preparing for potential problems. Chief information security officers (CISOs) are reprioritizing how they approach network security with reviews and revamped policies, as well as new technologies designed to thwart attacks.
Assessing Network Security Vulnerability and Risk
While there is a need to address 5G vulnerability, the technology may not be widespread for several years. 5G will be deployed in a phased approach, with small pockets popping up before it hits broader areas. Industries such as manufacturing and agriculture, energy production, and logistics are experimenting with 5G-enabled technology. 5G is expected to support everything from self-driving vehicles to robotic surgery.
In AT&T Cybersecurity’s 2019 “Security at the Speed of 5G” survey, developed with 451 Research, 76% of 704 participants reported that they expected to see unique new threats to come with 5G. Nearly three quarters (72.5%) expect to see an impact on their network security. Only 5% of respondents reported having a low level of concern around the impact of implementing 5G on their network security.
Benefits and Drawbacks of 5G
It’s not all bad news around 5G security. There are some improvements over predecessors, including the correction of some known vulnerabilities and 256-bit encryption as compared to 128-bit encryption offered with 4G. There have also been federal steps taken to improve security, such as a ban on using China-based providers.
Experts point out that while 5G is more secure, the context must be part of the conversation. There are higher levels of encryption, but that doesn’t protect unsecured endpoint devices when hackers use them to access enterprise systems.
There are also 5G vulnerabilities occurring at the network, because 5G uses distributed, software-defined routing, as opposed to centralized, hardware-based switching. This creates a situation where inspection and control can’t be concentrated into a centralized approach.
In addition, there are 5G vulnerabilities on the user side, because as enterprises connect devices to the network, they will need security concerns addressed. There are already threats that exist with 4G that will carry over, and there will be even more devices connected.
5G will offer speed to enterprises and individual users, and that same speed will also equip hackers. When security teams identify a breach, there may be more data leaked in a shorter time period than with 4G.
Preparing for 5G: Even now, AT&T Cybersecurity’s survey shows that respondents are addressing 5G vulnerabilities, from reviewing security policies to making adjustments and upgrades. Enterprises with a security-first approach to technology will fare best at implementing policies around 5G.
It’s also important to create a culture in which only devices and software solutions that have embedded security features that meet enterprise standards are chosen.To learn more about 5G and its potential impact on your enterprise network security, contact us at AMD Communications.