With many consumers and businesses set to adopt 5G mobile services in the coming years, one of the key questions users will have about the technology is how safe it is.
The security and privacy offered by new digital services has been a growing concern for both individuals and companies in recent years. Customers will want to know that any personal information they share with businesses will not be misused, while for businesses, there are a wide range of consequences should they suffer a data breach, from lost sales and reputational damage to the potential for significant fines under the GDPR regime.
Therefore, it will be important for any firm adopting 5G services within their organisation to take steps to ensure they are minimising their exposure to new threats.
The concerns surrounding 5G security
One of the biggest potential risks posed by 5G is that, with so much data being transferred across these networks, they will become highly tempting targets for hackers.
A recent report from the European Commission warned that 5G will also create many more potential entry points for attackers, while the increasing reliance on software within 5G networks also raised the risk of security vulnerabilities emerging.
In the most extreme cases, there have been suggestions that hackers could use 5G networks not only to steal data, but take control of connected devices. In an environment that is heavily dependent on 5G-connected Internet of Things (IoT) items, this could pose a range of threats. For example, imagine what could happen if a hacker was able to take control of a driverless car via its 5G network.
There have also been concerns raised about vulnerabilities within 5G networks themselves, particularly in relation to technologies provided by the Chinese firm Huawei. Several countries have banned this firm from their 5G networks over concerns over the potential they could be compromised by the Chinese government – though the UK has delayed making a final decision.
The steps needed to keep your network safe
To ensure their 5G networks are as secure as possible, enterprises will therefore have to work with the right partners that can offer advanced security solutions in addition to network access.
For instance, a feature of 5G that firms can take advantage of to enhance their security is network slicing. This involves creating a virtual network for certain applications that is ring-fenced from the rest of the network. As well as guaranteeing speed and capacity for critical applications, it also stops other services from accessing that bandwidth.
While all data sent over 5G should be encrypted, one of the biggest differences between 5G and earlier mobile services will be the range of devices that will be connected to the network. Concerns have been raised that many of the IoT devices that will be the primary users of 5G networks do not have the same security standards as legacy networks items, so it will be important for firms to pay close attention to these gadgets when setting up 5G solutions.
The best security practices that diligent companies should already have in place should stand them in good stead when it comes to 5G. However, but they will have to pay closer attention to issues such as permissions to strictly control access to their 5G-connected devices, while extra authentication such as biometrics should become the norm in the coming years in order to safeguard the growing quantities of data that 5G will generate.
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