June 10, 2021
A recent announcement by the UK Government has heralded the beginning of 5G adoption as they look to expedite the rate of 5G rollout. While this is a very exciting prospect, and certainly just the beginning of what will likely be a long and expensive implementation process, there are significant concerns that expanding the reach of 5G too quickly will create vulnerabilities as the attack surface broadens.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s announcement proposes expanding the size of new and existing masts to allow for more equipment. This is expected to significantly improve network reception, especially in rural areas.
Therefore, once put into action, 5G deployment will gain further traction as benefits such as lower latency times and a higher general standard of cybersecurity, as evidenced by the introduction of the Security Edge Protection Proxy, which protects the home network edge. And as IoT and other Smart City applications come into wider use, there will be a natural push to increase its range. However, several inherent weaknesses in 5G technology means that expanding the network rapidly, despite the potential benefits, could cause major security and safety issues in areas such as healthcare and Critical National Infrastructure.
An expanded attack surface means that there will be an increase in potential entry points into the network that hackers will be able to exploit. And, especially during this transition period, legacy issues from 3G and 4G will likely still occur as some device communication (such as SMS or voice calls) will rely on these older networks.
Of course, this is not to say that 5G adoption should necessarily be slowed – however, there should be serious considerations given to the cybersecurity (and by extension, safety) implications of such a timeline. That’s why solutions like ANGOKA’s secure both the device and the network, protecting the critical communications that enable IoT devices and Smart City technology.
Emerging technology will always present new concerns. But, with some consideration, technology like 5G can be protected and leveraged to provide services for the future.
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