While 5G enables businesses to create new technologies, they must also support security and privacy
As we embark on a new orbit around the sun, many of us have high hopes for a year 2021 brighter than 2020. In the world of technology, that statement has some validity, as the major network operators of around the world are competing to provide true 5G ultra-broadband (UWB) service to their customers: the value of 5G in the global economy is estimated to exceed $ 11 trillion by 2026.
The enhanced capabilities offered by 5G UWB, such as higher data throughput, ultra-low latency, increased reliability and ubiquitous connectivity, create new possibilities for the development of complex IoT product environments that involve increasingly interdependent decision making between multiple services, software and hardware vendors with little to no room for interruption.
While 5G creates new opportunities for companies to innovate, it also increases costs for companies to secure and protect their new products and services from threats of malicious security.
How will 5G change the world we live in today?
The hyper-connectivity of 5G UWB will not only improve the daily lives of many, but will also play a transformative role in establishing a new higher standard of living. As performance, reliability, latency, and connectivity reach new levels, we will begin to see traditional technology for everyday applications increasingly replaced or improved by a new generation of 5G-enabled applications. Innovation for new connected IoT applications will be incentivized to lean toward highly complex and interdependent product environments comprised of vendors specializing in lower-cost, higher-efficiency components of functionality.
5G, risks of interdependencies within product environments
One of the most anticipated use cases for 5G UWB is the use of augmented reality. As 5G UWB enables high data throughput, ultra-low latency, and ultra-reliable connectivity, product environments will have the ability to handle greater amounts of interdependent processes for never-before-seen applications. These highly intertwined processes pose risks for a cyberattack to have a domino effect: an exploit on a less protected component could lead to an exploit on a critical component of the product environment.
What are the risks and challenges?
- More scale means more attack surface: Increased scale in adopting connected product environments over traditional disconnected devices for highly critical applications. As more hardware, software, and service providers take on roles within product environments, more data needs to be stored and shared, increasing the attack surface for cybercriminals. In the case of autonomous vehicle use, any latency in the exchange of data between sensors and the downtime of wireless connectivity caused by malicious actors will cause critical damage to the physical security of users: the digital and physical worlds are beginning to merge into one.
- Complex interdependencies result in security weaknesses: As connected product environments embrace new vendor-based models, the increased number of complex interdependencies creates the risk of a domino effect of any security issue. Each supplier within the product environment is only as strong as its weakest link in the chain. Security standards are fragmented: those that you may consider to have less vulnerability risk, and therefore have a lower form of security, may put other vendors with higher vulnerability risks at risk.
- Data-sharing AI decision-making algorithms create additional risk: As an increasing amount of AI is used to streamline and automate decision-making in product environments, the amount of data that is transferred between databases in the cloud for algorithm transparency is also increasing. These additional amounts of data being shared and made transparent would pose an additional risk for product environments to be exploited by malicious actors.
Risks and challenges can be mitigated with a comprehensive solution
Network operators have an important role to play in ensuring that the future of connected product environments is protected. In a 5G-enabled world, carriers provide the wireless connectivity necessary for all applications to run; products and services depend on the hyper-connectivity that 5G operators make possible. Regardless of which vendor in a product environment is performing what functionality, all data will pass through the network operator that provides the wireless connectivity, so it is not only imperative, but also highly effective for operators to act as gatekeepers to maintain safe and secure data.
Network operators can ensure that they maintain the highest standard in providing digital security to customers by partnering with security vendors that have a strong track record and security technology stack. In addition, a security provider with security technology specialized in protecting software-defined networks (SDN) and virtualized network functions of 5G operators.
Micro-segmentation is a concept that security vendors have begun to adopt to protect edge-based 5G networks. Micro-segmentation isolation occurs in a similar way to how separate VLANs are configured on consumer gateways in the home to isolate and prevent compromised network traffic from moving laterally; the difference is that this takes place in SDN and VNF at the edge of the network (even before reaching the consumer’s home).
Peace of mind creates better business for everyone
By working together with security providers to protect data passing over the network, operators create peace of mind value not only for themselves, but also for service providers and consumers in the product environment.
- Operators can generate new revenue beyond traditional revenue streams by providing security services for service providers and consumers.
- Providing secure wireless connectivity will help operators differentiate themselves from others as trusted partners in a highly saturated and competitive market.
- Vendors that offer higher quality and safer products will see improvements in customer retention and increase customer confidence in their brand.
- Vendors can focus on innovating their products and services rather than spending resources addressing concerns about security risks.
- Consumers can have the peace of mind that they are safe by using safe and secure products and services.
Avast Smart Life
Avast has more than 30 years of experience as a leader in the global cybersecurity and privacy space and more than 15 years of experience partnering with network operators around the world. This experience has led to flexible partnerships with enterprise-grade integrations and support.
Additionally, Avast benefits from having a huge cloud-based machine learning engine that receives a constant stream of data from more than hundreds of millions of users, facilitating learning at speeds unprecedented for the artificial intelligence engine. Avast’s flagship partner solution, Avast Smart Life for 5G, enables network operators to offer security services to protect sensitive IoT devices, phones and data. For more information on Avast Smart Life, visit our website .
Filip Chytry January 19, 2021