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While a global pandemic may have slowed down 5G’s advances in 2020, it hasn’t lessened concerns over 5G cybersecurity.

Emerging threats still pose a danger to this connected ecosystem. Cybersecurity professionals constantly appraise policymakers on the potential pitfalls and recommend they stay informed on both the problem areas and solutions.

On one hand, high-speed, low-latency 5G networks will unlock tremendous potential across several verticals including healthcare, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT).

On the other hand, 5G could expose vulnerabilities of a hyper connected environment leading to issues such as online frauds, data breach, identity theft and ransomware attacks.

For most new-age digital enterprises, 5G translates into increased number of network endpoints that could be comprised by hackers. Supporting a large number of connected devices, 5G networks offer ultra-high bandwidths over Long-Term Evolution (LTE), thus presenting a different threat landscape than previous networks.

In general, it’s crucial for those who make policies to understand that 5G expands cyber risks on several different fronts, such as:

Dramatic expansion of bandwidth — Physically, low-cost, short range, small-cell antennas deployed throughout urban areas become new hard targets. Functionally, these cell sites use 5G’s Dynamic Spectrum Sharing capability in which multiple streams of information share the bandwidth in so-called “slices”—each slice with its own varying degree of cyber risk. When software allows the functions of the network to shift dynamically, cyber protection must also be dynamic rather than relying on a uniform lowest common denominator solution.

Virtualizing in software higher-level network functions – These were formerly performed by physical appliances. These activities are based on the common language of Internet Protocol and well-known operating systems. Whether used by nation-states or criminal actors, these standardized building block protocols and systems have proven to be valuable tools for those seeking to do ill.

Internet of Things connectivity — Plans are underway for a diverse and seemingly inexhaustible list of IoT-enabled activities, ranging from public safety things, to battlefield things, to medical things, to transportation things—all of which are both wonderful and uniquely vulnerable. 

Want to learn more? Tonex offers 5G Cybersecurity for Policymakers Training Workshop, a 2-day course where participants will learn about 5G networks, 5G network and system vulnerabilities, security threats, mitigation and policy principles for 5G deployment and cybersecurity policies. The 5G cybersecurity workshop discusses analysis and development of 5G policies and standards to serve as the foundation for securing 5G services and infrastructure. 

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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