As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to flood the enterprise, business professionals are realizing the limitations of 4G LTE. These constraints have made 5G a major buzz word in the tech industry, as it could usher in the next era of connectivity better suited for IoT devices.
With 5G integration on the horizon, a panel of specialists in mobile technology and security convened at the 2018 AT&T Business Summit to discuss the future implications of 5G. The panel included Rita Marty, the vice president in AT&T's chief security office; John Marinho, CTIA's vice president of technology and cybersecurity; Brian Hendricks, head of policy and public affairs for Nokia in the Americas; and Bob Ghaffari, a director in Intel's data center.
SEE: Cybersecurity in 2018: A roundup of predictions (Tech Pro Research)
The excitement surrounding a 5G network lies in the prospect of increased bandwidth, significantly higher speeds, and low latency, explained Marinho during the panel. From tagging equipment in a hospital, helping with resource management, improving connected infrastructures and utilities, as well as factory automation, the use case possibilities for 5G—especially across vertical industries— are endless, added Hendricks.
However, with new technology comes new threat vectors. While 5G does have its own set of challenges, that doesn't necessarily mean the challenges are harder than before, they are just different, said Hendricks.
In fact, security is looking even better in 5G. Currently, networks are pretty monolithic, said Marinho, but those functions become virtualized in 5G, providing an opportunity for better security. Virtualization means more mutual authentication between networks and users, added Marinho—the ability to detect threats, authenticate users, and practice good network hygiene are all more doable in 5G.
All panelists emphasized how the current approach to security is based on the mistakes in previous network securities. For example, when starting to consider 5G security six or seven years ago, Hendricks said they started by looking at holes in LTE security.
"5G addresses all of what we know about previous challenges, but also privacy by design. It's baked in from the beginning," said Marinho. "Security is more imbedded and dynamic than ever before."
One of the biggest problems in cybersecurity, however, continues to be poor user hygiene, said Marinho and Hendricks. Good hygiene is critical to maintaining secure network connectivity, so logging and monitoring user activity will be critical with the introduction of 5G, added Marinho.
Not only is poor hygiene a risk with consumers, but also with individuals who come in for network maintenance, said Hendricks. An extremely exciting prospect of 5G is the idea of automating threat detection and mitigation, which would hopefully prevent some of the "people issues" in security, as fewer hands would have to work on the network, according to Hendricks.
"Security is a team sport," said Marinho. "You have to bring everyone together." This starts by making employees and users aware of the implications and risks associated with poor user hygiene. "If you alert the public of the risks, they are more likely to adapt," added Marinho.
Check out this TechRepublic article for advice on how to improve your users' cybersecurity practices.
- Special report: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Intel makes 5G push across China with Huawei (ZDNet)
- 5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- FCC limits fees cities can charge for 5G deployment (CNET)
- AT&T, Samsung work to get manufacturing 5G-ready with new 'Innovation Zone' in Austin (TechRepublic)
Macy Bayern has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.