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Every once in a while there comes a technology which changes the entire landscape.

Some futurists view 5G technology as a technological paradigm shift, very much the way the Gutenberg printing press in the mid-1400s triggered  a “Renaissance of knowledge.”

However, that’s not to say that 5G architecture comes wrapped in a pretty bow without concerns. One of the fundamental challenges of 5G involves balancing its far-reaching potential for human progress against the significant new security risks presented by this extraordinary technological breakthrough.

The future of wireless technology holds the promise of total connectivity. But it will also be especially susceptible to cyberattacks and surveillance. Even before the introduction of 5G networks, hackers breached the control center of a municipal dam system, stopped an internet-connected car as it traveled down an interstate, and sabotaged home appliances.

Ransomware, malware, crypto-jacking, identity theft, and data breaches have become so common that more Americans are afraid of cybercrime than they are of becoming a victim of violent crime.

Cybersecurity professionals warn that 5G has the potential to worsen existing threats and introduce new ones. The Brookings Institution, for example, has identified several ways in which 5G networks are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than their predecessors:

  • The dramatic expansion of bandwidth creates additional avenues of attack, as the small-cell antennas deployed throughout urban areas become new hard targets.
  • The network moves away from centralized, hardware-based switching to distributed, software-defined digital routing, removing the potential to utilize hardware choke points where cyber hygiene could be practiced.
  • 5G further complicates its cyber vulnerability by virtualizing in software higher-level network functions formerly performed by physical appliances, a move that increases reliance on “standardized building block protocols and systems that have proven to be valuable tools for those seeking to do ill.
  • Even if it were possible to lock down the software vulnerabilities within the network, the network is also being managed by software — often early generation artificial intelligence — that itself can be vulnerable. An attacker that gains control of the software managing the networks can also control the network.

One of the chief cybersecurity concerns is how 5G technology creates new vulnerabilities by connecting tens of billions more hackable smart devices to the Internet of Things (IoT). Everything from home appliances to self-driving cars and medical systems will become uniquely vulnerable.

There’s also concern that a faster internet will create ways for viruses and malware to spread. If more users are on the network, then you also have the potential for more infected devices and systems than ever before.

Many cybersecurity experts also fear that 5G technology could lead to botnet attacks, which will spread at a much higher speed than the slower, pre-5G networks allowed.

Our Tonex 5G Cybersecurity program explores these important, cutting edge topics. Understanding them and knowing your options can be exceptionally valuable to every organization, company and agency.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.