Cyber security challenges in the 5G era

5 G

At present, the application of cutting-edge technologies such as the internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and edge computing is driving the progress of society. The digital economy is undergoing a transformation from “mobile internet” to “everything interconnection”. Currently, we are in the midst of a major change to achieve such a rapid communication network: evolution to the new global Information technology Infrastructure of 5G. It will become the cornerstone of supporting the new era of the digital economy. But 5G technology can also be a double-edged sword, as these new connected environments will give rise to a fresh set of vulnerabilities, which, when not secured effectively, will result in undesirable consequences. 5G networks can also lead to high cyber security risks’ organizations today must be cognizant of these risks and should prepare themselves to take the necessary precautions to address them.

The sudden rise of the attack surface – Due to the proliferation of IoT devices and edge-based computing, the industry is facing exponential growth of attack surface. Since these devices won’t necessarily be connected to a central network in a traditional hub-spoke model, attacks on these are inevitable. As billions of IoT devices get interconnected across a meshed edge environment, any device can become vulnerable in the security chain and put the entire enterprise and their business in jeopardy.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Automation to rescue - Combating these new risks will require systems to be agile through the sharing of threat intelligence, correlating event data and supporting automated incident responses, all aspects which will be vital and will require deep integration of technologies. The need of the hour is the development and adoption of comprehensive, fabric-based security architecture. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning and automation will become imperative in accelerating decision-making and reducing the time lapse between detection and mitigation.

5G infrastructure requirements – one of the biggest problem of cyber security is with 5G, the data will arrive too fast for most legacy applications. Many business data strategies do not take into account the technical challenges presented 5G. Organizations will require an enterprise data layer: an always available and highly distributed data warehouse that supports master and operational data to provide real-time data availability and functionality to all consumers and endpoints. The danger of not updating the infrastructure accordingly is increased by the fact that we will depend on 5G more than 4G for mission-critical applications. 

Authentication – While 2G, 3G, and 4G were designed for people, 5G is designed specifically for “things. A recent Gartner report found that two-thirds of organizations plan to implement 5G that connects to IoT devices. As 5G is used more widely in smart cities, banking or as part of a country's critical infrastructure, the information sent and received must be reliable. 5G may involve reviewing rules applied to filter malicious network traffic, since the current rules used may not recognize the subtleties of the highly personalized traffic possible with 5G. The addition of more IoT devices could also present attribution difficulties for cyber security statistics that have been used to monitor only human subscribers, unlike machine subscribers, the second type of subscriber composed of IoT devices.

Data Encryption - The era of digital transformation has already begun. It has generated vast amounts of new data, most of which is encrypted. Encrypted data currently constitutes more than 70 percent of network traffic. That percentage will only grow as encryption is used to protect data moving through open network environments. This will require high-performance cyber security tools in IoT and other edge devices that can inspect encrypted traffic at both speed and scale. New strategies such as network slicing will enable organizations to consume resources more efficiently while moving through massive data environments. This will also require segmentation and edge-based micro-segmentation to protect critical resources while isolating them from open and less secure environments.

As we can see, 5G will bring us new technologies and developments of benefits that have been never seen before, but it will also entail certain security risks that must be controlled before the final deployment of these communications networks. Successfully identifying the risks and threats to make the safest designs is essential in this current phase.

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