News Security

Widespread security concerns weighing heavily on 5G’s “promise of potential”

Vodafone
Brian Grant, APAC 5G Market Leader for Thales Cloud Security

Thales 2023 Data Threat Report: Telecommunications Edition, key findings

Vodafone, Telstra, and Optus have will start phasing out the 3G network across Australia and New Zealand in the next 12 months to make way for 5G.

True 5G is materially different from 3G and 4G, promising huge performance and capacity improvements. However, with just a fraction of 5G functionality currently in place, we’ve yet to experience its ultimate capability – or fully understand the extent of its security implications.

A new global report by cloud security expert Thales – 2023 Data Threat Report, Telecommunications Editionhas found the security risks, not only in owned infrastructure, but also from third-party devices that are connected to the network, are concerning 81% of telecoms professionals.

“Replacing 3G – and 4G at a future date – with 5th generation (5G) network technology is not a quick or easy task – and understandably security is a significant concern across the telecom industry and broader enterprise & government markets.”

Brian Grant, APAC 5G Market Leader for Thales Cloud Security

As telecoms companies navigate the security of their own 5G systems and data, they are also expected to secure millions of customers across various industries in an environment that is a high-value target for attackers. Yet with telecom providers suffering from higher levels of human error (50%) than any other industry (35% average) and just 1% of respondents encrypting more than 90% of their sensitive data, much more needs to be done as the region prepares to ramp up its 5G deployment.

Brian Grant, APAC 5G Market Leader for Thales Cloud Security, highlights key security challenges facing the region’s telecom industry, said, “While there is already some 5G functionality in place, we’ve only seen a fraction of its true capability to date. Replacing 3G – and 4G at a future date – with 5th generation (5G) network technology is not a quick or easy task – and understandably security is a significant concern across the telecom industry and broader enterprise & government markets.”

“True 5G is materially different from legacy 3G and 4G networks. It offers massive performance and capacity improvements, delivers critical network functions as virtualised services, and has the potential of pushing centralised or cloud-hosted services to the network edge – making them faster and less latency constrained than ever before,” he added

The advent of greater, faster 5G network capacity comes with huge social and business opportunity; it’s the ultimate promise of potential. But it also brings a new set of risks. When we speed things up, we achieve the benefit of near instantaneous execution – yet we also introduce the risk of near instantaneous consequences if systems are compromised. No manual intervention is available. If the responsibility of 5G security is not taken seriously in an era of autonomous systems, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Brian concluded, “While there’s still so much telecom providers can’t yet anticipate about the future deployment and security threats to 5G, the fact remains that 5G is built on data like every digital system. As a result, embedding data security is paramount to ensuring the positive potential of 5G is realised.”

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