5G's impact: Advanced connectivity, but terrifying security concerns

Despite growing excitement, 62% of organizations fear that 5G will also make them more vulnerable to cyberattack, Accenture found.

The impactful promise of 5G is undeniable in the enterprise: Nearly 80% of organizations said they believe 5G will have a significant impact on their business, an Accenture report found. This hype comes with mounting caution, however, as new technologies are typically followed by new cybersecurity concerns

Accenture's "Accelerating the 5G Future of Business," released on Tuesday, analyzed the growing excitement and apprehension around 5G connectivity. With Samsung recently announcing its new line of Galaxy S20 5G-enabled devices, the next-generation connectivity has moved from rumor to reality. However, so have new cyberattack concerns, the report found. 

SEE: Special report: How 5G will transform business (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

More than one-third (35%) of respondents said they had concerns around 5G security, an increase from 32% in last year's survey. At a more startling percentage, 62% of respondents specifically said they fear that the technology will make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The report outlined user expectations and further concerns associated with deployment. 

5G expectations 

5G will completely change the mobile experience, and consumers know it. More than half (57%) of respondents said they believe the impact of the technology will be revolutionary, while less than a quarter (24%) said the same about 4G. 

The low latency, fast speeds and reliability of 5G are causing consumers to set their expectations high, according to the report. 

Within two years, consumers expect the biggest benefits to include better support for mobile employees out in the field (67%), faster and more reliable app accessibility (67%), and increased remote work opportunities (64%).
 
On the business side, 79% of respondents said that 5G will help them become more connected in what they do. Some 78% of respondents said they thought the advancement would create new business opportunities. 5G is also believed to increase productivity (77%) and improve operations (76%). 

While mobile carriers are beginning to launch 5G at scale, business adoption of the technology is still in a nascent state. 

More than half (54%) of businesses are testing or have partially deployed 5G, but 34% have yet to use it in any way—a statistic that is sure to change in the coming years. 

5G concerns 

Despite the enthusiasm, professionals are also concerned about some of the negative aspects of 5G, specifically security and cost. 

The top barriers to adopting 5G in the next three years included security concerns (35%) and upfront investment (31%), the report found. 

The relationship between 5G and security is complex. Overall, the majority of respondents (68%) do believe 5G will make their businesses more secure. However, security challenges are also inherent to the network infrastructure, according to the report. 

These concerns involve user privacy (41%), the number of connected devices (37%), service access (34%), and supply chain integrity (29%). 

On the connected devices front, some 74% of respondents said they are worried that having more connected devices will bring more avenues for data breaches. With that said, the same percentage of respondents understand that adopting 5G means they will need to redefine security policies and procedures.

To prepare for both security and cost challenges associated with 5G, the report recommended users seek external help. The partners businesses will most likely work with include software and services companies (44%), cloud companies (43%), and equipment providers (31%). 

The most successful businesses, however, will be those that start those partnerships now and create detailed plans for a 5G future, the report found. 

For more, check out 5G to expand global device shipments in 2020 on TechRepublic. 

Also see

5th Generation Mobile Network, 5G Wireless System

Image: Olivier Le Moal, Getty Images/iStockphoto