5 Security Challenges of 5G and How to Address Them

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 17th June 2020

The world is about to experience a revolutionary internet technology advancement – 5G. It has become such a big deal that it is part of the reason the US-China trade war continues to intensify. 5G is next-generation wireless network that will enable lightning-fast internet connections. It is safe to say that 5G has already started changing the world. According to a recent report by Deloitte “5G: The chance to lead for a decade”, the global economy is at a turning point as 5G will fuel the economic transformation currently driven by augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT).

Statista predicts that the number of 5G connections will hit figures between 20 million and 100 million in 2020. In addition, around USD 2.3billion will be spent on 5G mobile infrastructure over the next two years. Experts say that 5G will bring many benefits for every industry as the world economy becomes increasingly digitized. Concurrently, the technology will present new and more complex security challenges. The vast increase in the number of connected devices and greater use of virtualization means more security threats. 5G security should, therefore, be given laser focus in all industries.

In order to prepare for the new challenges accordingly, it is important that every business and security company understand the following security aspects in the context of 5G networks.

  1. DDoS attacks on IoT networks: 5G will significantly boost IoT device connectivity. Authorized users will love faster speeds. At the same time, however, attackers will be able to deploy their hacking methods more quickly. Further, IoT devices currently use a client-server model that has limited security mechanisms. In the age of 5G, these devices will become easy targets for DDoS attacks.
  2. A wider attack surface: An obvious and immediate outcome of 5G is faster adoption of virtualized distributed networks. Ensuring that all systems and applications are up-to-date with latest security patches is already a challenge even with 4G technology. The 5G ecosystem will become a wider ground for attackers. Building a security orchestrator is a potential regulatory initiative to cope with increased security risk. It will facilitate the definition of security goals derived from best practices and regulatory compliance.
  3. ProSe intrusions: Proximity Service (ProSe) is one of the important features of 5G. It promises to streamline device-to-device communication by lowering latency. It will also make it possible to extend communications to devices beyond the base station’s reach.
  4. The flip side of ProSe is that there will be an increased threat landscape. Intrusion prevention will be more challenging. Each node will be required to handle more load when defending itself as opposed to relying on a central network for malicious activity screening.
  5. Software-defined network (SD-WAN) vulnerability: 5G will bring more extensive use of SD-WANs. The new threat will be caused by vulnerabilities in the SDN layers especially for new devices getting connected. Security experts propose built-in and pervasive security for every device and system in the 5G ecosystem. Network operators must also become more vigilant in monitoring band access, activity and traffic patterns to limit the attack surface.
  6. There is need for 5G-specialized security measures: 5G deployments will make the existing 4G security issues even more complicated. Foundational security measures will need to be built from the ground up to address 5G-specific risks. There is also need to maintain higher cybersecurity standards to harden security on the new wireless network.

As 5G technology comes to enable more automation and greater speed levels, organizations have to be keen to improve the quality of service and customer experience in addition to adequate customer data protection.

Organizations will continue to use a VPN like F-Secure, strong access authentication and control for online resources, stronger firewall, cloud encryption, network intrusion detection, and other security measures. Another option would be free ProtonVPN but even this is not enough for 5G. Using this network will require organizations to rethink their security strategies. Securing the 5G opportunity means ensuring that there is enough technical and human capacity to protect vast data amounts, computer resources, and networking traffic that 5G will bring.

5G networks require more sophisticated measures such as using fabric-enabled security platforms. These provide comprehensive protection, visibility, detection and automated response. As organizations put together bigger security frameworks, such security platforms will enable organizations to tie new solutions with traditional security measures while maintaining secure workflows. The concept of secure-by-design seems inevitable. Designers of devices and systems expected to get connected to the network will need to incorporate security in the design.

Categories: Tech