The Private 5G IoT Security Imperative

By: Jimmy Jones

Just 10 years ago, cellphones had a single camera on the back, Jeff Bezos’ billions of dollars was only in the tens, and mobile networks were just evolving from 3G to 4G. A lot has happened since then, but just how far telecom networks have come during this time is often lost in the blasé way we talk about MHz and GBs.

Think of it this way. Back then, the first Tesla, the Roadster, was the only model available and had a top speed of 125 mph. If Mr. Musk had kept pace with the evolution of telecom networks, his “5G Roadster” would clock 29,761 mph, meaning you could drive Route 66 in under five minutes. In fact, if the Tesla Roadster sent into space in February 2018 had been the 5G edition, not only would Elon’s dream of getting to Mars have been achieved, but he could also be safely parked on Jupiter by now!

This sort of progress, while impressive, will completely pale in comparison to what we’re about to experience as 5G finds its stride.

Security in the 5G era

5G is not just the next mobile generation, delivering more speed and flexibility. With 5G, telecoms are opening up and embracing a plethora of technologies to deliver more service than ever before. 5G will consolidate the most successful, innovative and widely operated applications. It will allow them to communicate and interact between each other, and more importantly, communicate with an ecosystem of billions of IoT devices globally.

However, all these individual applications and devices will have security vulnerabilities, with the potential consequences of an attack as varied and damaging as the infinite IoT solutions we can conceive. This magnifies the rewards for a hacker, increasing the temptation, likelihood and diligence of an attack.

Interestingly, 2011 was also the first time the white Guy Fawkes mask was adopted, now a globally accepted symbol of protest and cyber threat. Over this same period, telecom networks have experienced an explosion in cyber risk that was previously never considered. Vulnerabilities have been exposed, exploited and regularly reported in the media. But just as the last 10 years represents the “warm up” in technology terms, it is also just the prelude for security.

We are about to start the main event.

While 5G IoT autonomous cars and remote surgery are still a way off, areas such as agriculture and industry 4.0 are pushing forward, driven by the significant financial incentives 5G and IoT can bring to those businesses.

Imagine the impact for a manufacturer if they could monitor and evaluate environmental conditions, machinery performance, supply chain logistics, and even product quality in real time via sensors. This huge volume of data could provide invaluable insight and also power AI or ML algorithms, potentially allowing efficiencies to be pushed back via 5G to maximize the performance of smart factory equipment, or any other assets, optimizing productivity.

Again, network security is key, not only to protect the sensitive business information as we are familiar with in today’s IT corporate networks, but also the operational


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