Digital Tectonic Plates have started to shift from 4G to 5G -and it's going to affect enterprise cyber-security.
While 5G promises to transform the way data is transferred from source to destination, it also poses significant information security risks. A faster speed might also widen the attack surface for new vulnerabilities to enterprise security infrastructure. Here is what you need to know.
As organizations begin their digital transformation journey, 5G is envisaged as the driver for Industry 4.0 initiatives. It is increasingly being seen as the catalyst that will motivate future innovations and newer technology build-ups.
However, the concern regarding security risks remains. One of the most critical questions organisations continue to ask is how adopting 5G technology today will impact on current and future enterprise security.
Careful consideration needed
Like any emerging technology, 5G needs careful consideration.
While 5G promises to revolutionize mobile telephony, it will also significantly influence the adoption of other technology including cloud technology, data analytics and AI/ML. For this reason it will undoubtedly have a positive impact on organizational growth.
However, there are concerns regarding the security of the networks and systems that will be leveraging 5G. For instance, 5G may result in more personal data and other sensitive and confidential information being stored in the cloud. Given the challenges, cyber-security professionals will have to continuously devise ways to enable an effective security posture against malicious actors.
Emerging threats when adopting 5G
There are a number of threats that organizations face while adopting 5G technology. One is the security of the IoT ecosystem. According to a 2020 report, about 98% of all IoT traffic remains unencrypted.
With the increasing usage of 5G, and the corresponding rise in IoT data traffic, the vulnerability posed to sensitive and confidential data on systems that are connected to IoT devces will increase. The report also found that almost 57% of IoT devices had medium to severe security issues and were prone to attacks.
A SonicWall report shows an increase of almost 215% in the number of global IoT malware attacks in 2017-2018. It is a phenomenal increase.
Increasing cloud adoption: The new ecosystem demands multi-vendor and multi-site cloud infrastructures in order to be resilient. Different providers that meet performance parameters enable scalability. However, they can come with serious security issues from software platform migration, technology gaps and regulatory compliance perspectives.
Employee training and education is also a problem. There is an increasing knowledge gap that has appeared. This situation has arisen because many new technologies are bought in without IT teams having adequate knowledge about them, especially their security functionalities.
Obsolete or uneven standards may also cause difficulties. International, federal, and state-level security regulations may require different protocols and standards. And as organisations transition from 4G to 5G, embracing all aspects of 5G standardisation will be a significant cyber-security challenge as it may leave room for security vulnerability while transitioning.
A crucial role for government
Governments have a crucial role in securing the 5G enterprise network. But so do universities and businesses.
We've seen how the arrival of 5G has been marked as a momentous event. Governments and institutions worldwide intend to make full use of it. However, they must also understand the security challenges.
Securing the 5G enterprise network should be a priority for everyone, and each stakeholder needs to understand its importance. At a national level, transition needs to be well-planned, involving many players.
Governments are solely responsible for formulating the policies that will function as the guiding light for industry. But without proper regulatory mechanisms, the entire premise is bound to fall flat. Governments may also have to pitch in with initial infrastructure investments.
Academic research is needed into solutions for scaling the technology. There is a need for intellectual muscle to create firewalls around the 5G enterprise network.
The industry is the final cog in the wheel and an equally important one. 5G is supposed to be the driver of Industry 4.0, an enormous digitisation drive that will entirely change how things are done and how data is accessed. Industry must embrace this opportunity in order to increase productivity.
It’s clear that a holistic national strategy is needed by any nation wanting to maximise the opportunities from 5G enterprise networks. The 5G enterprise network is the future of communication and has to be nurtured with care and caution. Its potential is immense, but so are the chances of its misuse. With the right effort and practical regulatory insight, it will undoubtedly become a game-changer.
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