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5G does not just mean faster speeds, it can unlock a slew of new technologies working together to create better products and services at every level of industry. Despite the excitement surrounding the technology, there are plenty of professionals worried about the new security challenges that 5G presents. A recent AT&T survey showed that 73% of security practitioners had high to medium-high levels of concern as far as the potential impact of 5G on security was concerned. The most significant concerns revolved around the larger attack surface and increased number of devices, followed by the need to authenticate and extend security policies out to those devices.

On top of which there are concerns about a range of wholly new 5G security challenges that are expected to emerge soon. However, the ironic part is perhaps that despite the obvious concerns, only 16% of organizations have started preparing for 5G deployments. If you are looking to make a headway into 5G-enabled IoT security at your organization, please refer to IT support 24/7 for local, specialized support in your specific niche.

What is 5G?

The first four generations of mobile connectivity each improved on the previous generation by offering better speeds and reliability. 5G Technology Companies are slated to offer much of the same benefits along with enabling a whole host of exciting new technologies and innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, ML and more. For now, it’s expected that 5G will continue to work alongside 4G, before the worldwide deployments are complete and eventually replace it. For an in-depth understanding of the topic, please refer to Managed IT Services.

5G Security

How does 5G work?

5G is more reliable than 4G because it is capable of transmitting a lot of data over shorter distances than 4G LTE. This makes 5G much more reliable in terms of speed and consistency of connection signals and the network itself. The news signal spectrums also mean that the network is capable of supporting more devices than ever before. And most importantly perhaps, 5G is much more energy efficient and less power-hungry than 4G LTE. With the number of connected devices exploding the world over, this is good news for the energy consumption and overall carbon footprint of data networks.

Understanding the Security Challenges in The 5G World

Decentralized security

One crucial thing to understand about pre-5G networks is that it had significantly less hardware traffic points-of-contact. This made security checks and maintenance much easier. The scenario is very different with 5G’s dynamic software-based systems as these have a lot more traffic routing points that require extensive monitoring for the network to remain secure. This is far more complicated and can create significant security challenges as unsecured areas might end up compromising other parts of the network.

The extra bandwidth enabled by 5G will challenge the capacity of current security monitoring

Compared to 5G, existing networks are definitely limited in their speed and capacity. Conversely though, this actually proved beneficial for securing the network as providers could monitor security in real-time. Given the incredible bandwidth boost 5G is set to unleash, this could very well end up hurting the security stance of the expanded 5G network. The additional speed and volume will mean that security experts will need to devise creative new methods to secure the network against an evolving array of threats.

IoT devices inherently lack security

In the rush to be the first on the market, many IoT device manufacturers actually put little thought into securing their low-end and primarily low-cost devices. While 5G will definitely help usher in a new level of productivity with IoT devices; the devices themselves remain highly vulnerable. More worryingly, as the number of connected devices continues to climb, we will be left dealing with a scenario where the network connects billions of devices with varied levels of security. This means billions of potential weaknesses and breach points making the entire network vulnerable. Think of the array of smart devices in your own home – smart TVs, door locks, refrigerators, speakers, and house lights can harbor a network weakness. This lack of standardized security has made IoT devices extremely vulnerable to network breaches. Security professionals fear that hackers may try to exploit this opportunity by targeting IoT devices exclusively.

No encryption in the connection process

This ends up disclosing critical device info that hackers can leverage to launch device-specific IoT targeted attacks. This kind of information helps hackers identify exactly which devices are connected to the network along with other critical information such as operating system and device type (smartphone, vehicle modem, etc.) All of this can end up inadvertently helping hackers to better plan and fine-tune their attacks. To help better protect against this type of attack, feel free to consult with the IT experts at Managed Security Services.

Key Ways You Can Help Customers Prepare for 5G Security Challenges

Encouraging a security-first mind-set

Emerging technologies like 5G are a right fit for companies that have adopted a mature, security-first mindset. You should ideally encourage clients to move towards a security-first culture at the earliest by developing custom-fit solutions and services that address the specific 5G security needs of the organization. Hopefully, this will cover all the necessary operational requirements, including incident response experiences that enable an organization to learn about its own preparedness to respond to a threat.

Help customers choose the right IoT devices

Customers often need guidance on choosing the right IoT devices that come with embedded security features that are compliant with established standards, like NIST. These must also provide adequate safeguards including detection, and mitigation of threats.

Virtualize security controls

5G dramatically increases the expanded surface area for attack at 5G Network Speeds. This can become a significant security concern unless threat management and mitigation policies can be applied just as easily. This can be done through applying virtualized security controls that are capable of quickly enforcing security policies across operational environments. This can also help automate remediation that further helps in threat mitigation.