14TH SEPTEMBER 2020
Can 5G make organisations more vulnerable to cyber-attacks? asks Ronen Shpirer, Director of Solutions Marketing at the cyber company Fortinet.
The roll-out of the 5G mobile network will offer the potential for download speeds of up to ten times faster than today’s, promising to change how we communicate, work and stream video. Gartner predicts that 66 per cent of organisations will take advantage of these benefits and adopt 5G by 2020 — with 59% of them planning to use 5G to support the Internet of Things (IoT) across their business. However, 5G does present a unique opportunity for cybercriminals to target more devices and launch attacks on a larger scale.
From a threat actor perspective, mobile operators weren’t all that interesting of a target, due to the fact that previous mobile generations were aimed at consumers and it was far more effective to target the users themselves, the smartphone or the content provider. But 5G has changed that outlook. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) can now offer a whole ecosystem of services, applications and content to enterprises and industries, becoming extremely critical for the economy and national infrastructure as well. Which is a far more financially enticing target for a cyber criminal. Therefore, MNOs must secure their infrastructure to maintain the service’s availability and continuity, but it’s security from an attack or even human error, as well.
If 5G is becoming an enabler for industries, these services are now an attack vector for criminals to bring down enterprises through financial means, espionage or activism. If MNOs and enterprises don’t take care of security today, it will become riskier and more complicated, if and when all critical infrastructure is run through 5G.
Take smart factories for example, all operations will eventually be supported through 5G and IIoT. Should an attacker successfully gain access to the 5G network that serves a factory, they can halt production or manipulate the application which manages robots on the factory floor, into doing things they aren’t supposed to. This becomes especially more sinister with autonomous transport and vehicles.