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The Future of 5G: Is The Cybersecurity Community Ready?

As the fifth generation of broadband cellular technology — or 5G — becomes more widespread, cybersecurity threats will continue to grow in number and sophistication as new methods of attacking the network become available. Network infrastructure providers, virtual mobile network operators (VMNOs), and communication service providers (CSPs) play a critical role in the design and rollout of 5G networks.

With 5G technology, keeping everyone involved on the same page and acting synchronously will be more difficult than ever before. Here are some privacy and security improvements and challenges the cybersecurity community needs to be ready for and how to get the support you need as you scale your business and protect your investments in a fifth-generation world.

5G Networks Use Digital Routing Instead of Hardware-Based Switching

Fifth-generation cellular broadband networks have migrated away from hardware-based switching in a centralized location to digital routing defined by various software applications. Centralized hardware hubs allowed for checkpoints where traffic coming in and out of the network can be inspected and monitored. Virtualizing the routing process makes it more difficult to create a single checkpoint for security control. This means that organizations will have to coordinate with operators in order to implement visibility devices.

Virtualizing High-Level Network Functions Increases Security Risks

5G networks allow for high-level functions to be performed digitally instead of by physical computer hardware. While this does increase the speed and accessibility of higher-level functionality, it also creates unique vulnerabilities. The standardized protocols that serve as building blocks for the execution of digital functions are well-known to hackers, making the infiltration of 5G networks faster and easier.

Additionally, the short-range, low-cost antennas needed for 5G networking also become targets, and since they have a much shorter range than 4G antennas, there are many more of them in urban areas. Each of these sites is a hub for a number of data streams that also carry their own cybersecurity risks.

Organizations will have to know how their connectivity footprints are deployed as more applications and business services will be utilizing the capability 5G affords running on top of mobile networks, rather than traditional wired infrastructure.

5G Impacts Home Workforce Security

As a large portion of today’s workforce began operating from home, the technology industry realized there was a limit to cloud availability and connectivity across the globe. Increasing the number of remote devices connected to a network and spreading out their location not only makes networks more vulnerable but also creates a greater need for infrastructure support. Businesses need enterprise solutions for intelligent, responsive networks that can withstand congestion and ensure the security and integrity of critical data.  

5G Networks Connect Billions of Small, Hackable Smart Devices

There are currently billions of internet-connected devices in the world, most of them small and portable. These devices are often easy to hack, and when connected to a 5G network, can easily allow a malicious user to access a plethora of data contained within the network.

Identity security is also an issue as International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catching attacks uncover the identifying information of mobile device users. In some cases, bad actors are even able to download exploitation software on 5G-connected devices. NetQuest can help telecom providers discover monitoring solutions for more secure portable device management.

How NetQuest Can Help Your Business Increase Privacy and Security in a 5G Climate

Despite security concerns, upgrading to 5G networking is necessary for companies to continue doing business successfully in today’s climate. It’s an essential growth factor for securing the sustainability, scalability, and profitability of your company now and in the future.

By weaving security, monitoring, and privacy protocols into the very architecture of 5G networks, the entities who deploy them can be proactive in protecting the privacy of their networks’ users.

NetQuest can help your company ensure that important information about the location, identity, and behavior of your users is kept safe. Contact us today to learn more about privacy and security for 5G networks or to schedule an appointment to discuss your digital security needs with one of our experienced professionals.

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