5G cybersecurity risks and how to address them


5G has had a slow start but is finally gathering momentum thanks to the launch of 5G phones by the likes of Apple and Samsung. 5G offers lightning-fast speeds, better connectivity and lower latency than 4G, however, as with any technology, it also has some cybersecurity risks that need addressing.

Here are five you need to know about:

Internet of Things (IoT)

The lack of security in many IoT devices is an ongoing concern and 5G accelerating the world of IoT can only further this risk.

Through 5G it’s possible to connect thousands of internet-enabled devices simultaneously, from phones to IoT (internet of things) sensors. It’s not just computers and smartphones but a whole host of connected objects – from smart bulbs to security systems to wearable devices – and the challenge of ensuring they are all cyber-secure grows more complex and time-consuming.

Poorly-secured IoT devices will introduce several new weak points into home and workplace networks, giving hackers more opportunities to make their way in. The likelihood of hackers finding a poorly secured IoT device is high – and with faster connectivity, this will be this will be even easier.

From hardware to software

Unlike older 2G, 3G, and 4G networks which used hardware, 5G relies on software-defined networking (SDN) layer to do most of the heavy lifting.

While SDN adds flexibility to the 5G network, the SDN layer itself exposes 5G networks to IP (Internet Protocol) attacks such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service). Another form of IP attack that can be used against 5G networks is network hijacking. Network Hijacking works by rerouting sensitive information through a cyber criminal’s network before the data is routed back to its intended target.

Because 5G will be mostly an all-software network, updates will also be carried out through software – similar to how operating systems on tablets, phones, and computers are updated – an additional point of vulnerability.

Need for speed

5G is extremely fast, as networks love to remind us, but this also means that stealing the data from a device will take a cyber-criminal far less time.

One sign that a security breach has taken place is suspiciously high network traffic, something that you are less likely to notice in a high-speed, high-volume network. With 5G, a cybercriminal may access your network and compromise your data before you even notice.

More devices and bandwidth for hackers to use

As well as speed 5G will have a much higher bandwidth than any networks before it. While this is great news for consumers and businesses, hackers will also take advantage of this.

As we’ve mentioned, many IoT devices are insecure and will rapidly become preferred targets for hackers. And with more available bandwidth, they can generate more powerful DDoS attacks that can overwhelm your network and services.

Edge attacks

Data breaches are likely to occur at the ‘network edge’ where employees access cloud applications because of inadequate security controls around remote devices and wireless networks.

The increasing use of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policies also places more risk on your IT infrastructure. Employees using their personal phones to access your business network and applications creates new entry points for hackers looking to steal sensitive information.

Your IT provider can help mitigate these risks by taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity and creating secure end-to-end networks that protect data from the edge to the cloud. This security strategy will reduce risk, making it harder for hackers to get through undetected and reduce costs associated with potential fines and lost business due to cyberattacks.

How you should prepare for 5G

If you’re thinking about 5G for your business, be sure to take the following security and privacy considerations into account:

Install an anti-virus solution on all your devices. These will help prevent your devices from becoming infected.

Use a VPN to stop strangers from accessing your data without permission and spying on your online activity.

Practice strong password security. Always use passwords when available and make them incredibly strong. Long strings of random characters are considered the best passwords possible. Make sure you include uppercase, lowercase, symbols, and number as well.

Update the default backend passwords on all your IoT devices. Follow your device’s instructions on updating the “admin/password” style credentials of your gadgets. To find this information, speak to your IT provider.

Keep all your IoT devices updated with security patches. This includes your mobile phone, computers and all smart home devices. Remember, any device that connects to the internet, Bluetooth or other data radio should have all the latest updates (apps, firmware, OS, etc.)

As 5G expands, so too will the attack surface, to adapt, businesses will need to change their mindset when it comes to cybersecurity.

For more information about 5G and how it can benefit your business, contact us at