5G: A help or a hindrance to network security?

5G: A help or a hindrance to network security?

Malcolm Murphy, Technical Director, EMEA at Infoblox, says that 2020 is the year of 5G and its potential applications to accelerate beyond cell phones to IoT and sensors, but at what cost?

With the dawn of a new data-driven decade comes a lot of uncertainty around new network technologies, such as IoT, and more importantly, around security. While 5G has the capability to deliver near-limitless connectivity, will it be a help or a hindrance to network security?

The introduction of innovations such as IoT has resulted in millions of connected devices worldwide, and is projected to reach a staggering 29 billion by 2022. To support this mass of connected ‘things’, we need a new, enhanced network to support it; cue the roll out of 5G (Fifth Generation) network connectivity, otherwise known as the catalyst-connected human ecosystem.

The use of 5G is set to support billions of connected devices and services worldwide across a wide range of industry sectors. The Wired. Ericsson report estimates there will be at least 150 million active 5G subscriptions across the globe by 2021.

The pervasive connectivity of 5G will increase reliance on edge computing, which brings cloud resources—compute, storage, and networking—closer to applications, devices, and users. The use of 5G not only signifies a vast improvement over current cellular wireless technology, but a shift in innovation throughout evolving societal implications.

From live streaming and augmented reality, to self-driving cars and IoT, this generation has been witness to some of the most awe-inspiring technological advancements to date. At the same time, we’ve also seen major cyber security threats evolve tenfold due to the ever-changing pace of IoT.

From Equifax and British Airways, to WannaCry and Wonga, millions of UK and global customers have been affected by some of the most complex attacks and breaches in recent history. It’s become such a widespread issue that the Global Risks Report 2018 has ranked cyber-attacks to be third in its top ten risks.

Prior to 2010, few people knew or showed concern about the implications of cyber security. When we reflect on the early adopters of IoT, the only exposed issue was malware or adware, and as the years progressed the data breaches have viciously spread.

During this time of development, IoT, developers were more preoccupied with adding connectivity to everything rather than who could access it. We now see data breaches come in all shapes and sizes, for example through malware command and control, DDoS attacks, data exfiltration (and infiltration), domain hijacking, phishing and spear phishing attacks, to name just a few. 5G has the potential to transform the cyber security landscape by enhancing customer experienced and improving cyber security.

As a result of this, Gartner estimates that 7% of CSPs worldwide have already deployed 5G infrastructure in their networks, as it has proven to enhance and improve existing technologies with  increased network capacity, speed and especially cyber security.

As the world looks forward to 5G becoming an everyday reality, it will revolutionise quality of user experience, through the ability to pre-forecast issues surrounding data breaches and enable fast fixes to vulnerabilities. This will be a pivotal way to avoid these breaches on security through weak default passwords, as it will be able to encrypt data and to separate it from networks and the public internet.

An example of this can be seen with Domain Name System (DNS) security, as it is often overlooked when it should, in fact, be a high priority for businesses. Current intrusion detection and prevention systems and next-generation firewalls are, when used in isolation, insufficient to successfully defend against DNS attacks.

With these attacks continuing to rise, there’s a real need for organisations to implement a multi-faceted strategy to combat modern criminals, and the increasingly sophisticated malware that uses DNS as a way of evading existing defence systems.

Even so, the lack of centrality and use of mesh models are both important features in today’s cloud IT revolution. Improving data sharing will improve network capacity, which will, in turn, enable us to fix breaches much quicker and more effectively. This will inevitably help enhance customer experience and build upon the distinct architecture of data sharing, in a safe and succinct way.

At 5 milliseconds, current DNS latency is too high to support many 5G applications. For example, 5G deployments across AR/ VR, gaming, connected cars, and telesurgery will require end-to-end latency time of 1-10 milliseconds. Clearly, current DNS latency is unacceptable.

The pervasive connectivity of 5G will increase reliance on edge computing, which brings cloud resources—compute, storage, and networking—closer to applications, devices, and users. 5G implementations will require greater use of small cell stations at the very edge of the network, so data need not travel long distances to a cloud or data center.

To ensure unhindered traffic flow at the edge, DNS services must also be positioned at the edge. This allows data to be sent between devices almost instantaneously. An example of this can be seen when 5G is able to support reliable communication between machines and automated and autonomous production, allowing for smarter and safer driving with reflex responses that could challenge those of a human driver.

2019 was a year of rapid innovation—and disruption—for both the IT industry and the broader business community.

2020 is the year of 5G and its potential applications to accelerate beyond cell phones to IoT and sensors, enabling innovations in mobile health, telesurgery, automated manufacturing, smart cities, e-sports, VR/AR gaming and connected vehicles. As we seen the implementation of 5G throughout its global roll out, businesses should prioritise this as a framework to enhance cyber security measures and data sharing.

Copyright Lyonsdown Limited 2021

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