The coming of widespread 5G technology promises quite just faster everything, enhanced capacity, and greater reliability. Leading proponents of the wonders of 5G, like the theoretical physicist and author Michio Kaku, paint an image of a real technological “paradigm shift, a game-changer.”
The self-described futurist invites us to imagine a lightning-fast global communications network that will fuel dramatic advancements in society’s productivity and ultimately “enrich and empower our lives.”
“Every once during a while, there’s this technology which changes the whole landscape,” he says during a video produced by wireless network operator T-Mobile. very similar to the arrival of the Gutenberg press within the mid-1400s triggered “a Renaissance of data,” he explains that 5G holds the promise to bring “connectedness … to the remainder of the world” for many people that currently lack quick access to broadband technology.
Let’s hope he’s correct. Because there’s also no shortage of bright minds waving red flags about potential risks to health and online security. Many are warning that 5G also holds the facility to complement and empower high-speed malicious hackers, supercharging their ability to wreak untold havoc within the global cybercrime epidemic.
“One of the elemental challenges of 5G involves balancing its far-reaching potential for human progress against the many new security risks presented by this extraordinary technological breakthrough,” said cybersecurity expert Chuck Bane, academic director for the University of San Diego’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering program and retired military officer whose experience includes collaboration on cybersecurity projects with the Department of Homeland Security, the NSA and therefore the DoD.
What is 5G?
Remember when 4G promised to revolutionize data-based communication across the globe? That was so 2010. The “G,” in fact, stands for “generation” — meaning that 5G is that the next generation of wireless mobile technology after 4G.
And generations, during this case, move far more quickly than in human terms. a fast review of the evolution of wireless communication reveals that the arrival of 1G within the late 1970s marked the start of cellphone technology; so people born before that have gone from a 0G world to 4G, and now 5G. Each generation has been marked by technological advancements that allow greater data transmission speeds.
But, as technology website CNET explains, “5G networks will bring us far more than an easy bandwidth or ‘speed’ improvement on phones: Critical improvements like low latency, intelligent power consumption, high device density, and network slicing make it a breakthrough.”
How Does 5G Work?
“Like other cellular networks, 5G networks use a system of cell sites that divide their territory into sectors and send encoded data through radio waves,” consistent with PCmag.com.
The fifth generation of wireless internet technology will believe many thousands of those “small cell” transmitters, which consume less power but cover smaller areas than 4G towers.
“The size and number of the tiny cells which power 5G also means they’re going to be placed anywhere in streets and buildings,” consistent with Forbes.com, marking “the biggest shift in telecommunications since the invention of the cellphone.”
For more details on how it all works, HackerNoon.com offers helpful explanations in “5 quick things to understand about 5G.”
How Fast is 5G?
5G is usually described as 100 times faster than 4G. Or, depending upon what sort of application you’re talking about, 10 times faster. Or 1,000 times faster.
Why is enhanced speed such a game-changer?
Faster data transmission and greater bandwidth obviously have much more important applications than consuming media, playing online games, and exchanging work documents and files online.
In the medical world, for instance, it can accelerate caregivers’ ability to deliver services like “physician-to-physician consultations, at-home monitoring and video-based telemedicine,” consistent with ModernHealthcare.com.
Another example involves self-driving cars, which believe an endless stream of knowledge to work. “The quicker that information is delivered to autonomous vehicles, the higher and safer they will run,” consistent with a CNBC video.
The CNBC report forecasts 5G becoming the essential “the animal tissue for the web of Things” — enabling the worldwide network of internet-connected devices to “grow three-fold by 2025, linking and controlling not just robots, but medical devices, industrial equipment, and agricultural machinery.”
The Pros and Cons of 5G
Along with the various positive benefits of 5G technology detailed above comes a lengthy list of concerns, from the individual and private to the national and global.
- Could malicious hackers use the speed of 5G to more easily infiltrate people’s personal devices, home security systems, self-driving cars, pacemakers?
- Could enemies use it to bring down essential infrastructure like communications systems or power grids?
- Is China, as some observers believe, before America in terms of being the dominant player in 5G technology?
- And what about public health concerns involving unanswered questions on possible exposure to radiation emitted by the so-called “small cells” that help move the info at lightning speeds?
- Such concerns are closely examined in media reports with headlines just like the following:
- The Terrifying Potential of the 5G Network
- 5G Networks Can Change The Way We Live: For Better or Worse?
- New 5G Security Threat Sparks Snooping Fears
- Concerns about potential health risks presented by electromagnetic wave produced by higher-frequency radio waves emitted by the 5G small cells are front and center (Wired.com offers some reassurance in a piece of writing titles “Worried About 5G’s Health Effects? Don’t Be”), but this report will specialize in the cybersecurity implications of 5G.
What Does 5G Mean for Cybersecurity Professionals?
The future of wireless technology holds the promise of total connectivity.
But it’ll even be especially vulnerable to cyberattacks and surveillance.
That’s the premise of an in-depth review of the “terrifying potential” of 5G published within the New Yorker.
The article cites estimates that “5G will pump $12 trillion into the worldwide economy by 2035, and add 22 million new jobs within us alone,” while introduction “a fourth technological revolution .”
However, “A totally connected world also will be especially vulnerable to cyberattacks. Even before the introduction of 5G networks, hackers have breached the center of a municipal dam system, stopped an Internet-connected car because it traveled down an interstate, and sabotaged home appliances. Ransomware, malware, crypto-jacking, fraud, and data breaches became so common that more Americans are scared of cybercrime than they’re of becoming a victim of violent crime.”
Industry watchdogs warn that 5G has the potential to worsen existing threats and introduce new ones. for instance, the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, has identified five ways during which 5G networks are more susceptible to cyberattacks than their predecessors during a report titled: “Why 5G Requires New Approaches to Cybersecurity.”
- The network moves faraway from centralized, hardware-based switching to distributed, software-defined digital routing, removing the potential to utilize “hardware choke points where cyber hygiene might be practiced.”
- “5G further complicates its cyber vulnerability by virtualizing in software higher-level network functions formerly performed by physical appliances,” a move that increases reliance on “standardized building block protocols and systems [that] have proven to be valuable tools for those seeking to try to ill.”
- “Even if it were possible to lock down the software vulnerabilities within the network, the network is additionally being managed by software — often early generation AI — that itself are often vulnerable. An attacker that gains control of the software managing the networks also can control the network.”
- The dramatic expansion of bandwidth creates additional avenues of attack because the “small-cell antennas deployed throughout urban areas become new hard targets.”
- New vulnerabilities are created by connecting tens of billions more hackable smart devices to the web of Things — “from public safety things to battlefield things, to medical things, to transportation things — all of which are both wonderful and uniquely vulnerable.”
Since one among the chief benefits envisioned for 5G is that the ability to attach more and more devices to the IoT, this “also increases the threat vectors for hackers,” consistent with HackerNoon.com.
Another potential “worst-case scenario” outlined by HackerNoon: “Faster networks also can mean faster ways for viruses and malware to spread. If more users are on the network, then you furthermore may have the potential for more infected devices and systems than ever before.”
Commenting on the priority that a greatly expanded IoT multiplies the potential points of entry for cyberattacks in a piece of writing titled “5G Dangers: What are the Cybersecurity Implications?” Heimdal Security notes that “5G technology could also cause botnet attacks, which can spread at a way higher speed than the present networks allow it.”
Of particular relevance to the cybersecurity community, the dawn of the 5G era demands that new and improved defenses and cybersecurity protocols be developed and put in situ to counter the potential risks.
This means the present and future work of the many cybersecurity professionals are going to be inextricably connected to understanding and defending against the new security risks, both known and unknown, posed by this rapidly emerging technological breakthrough.
Because, within the end, a world with vastly improved speed and bandwidth, also as greatly expanded threat vectors, creates new possibilities for humans to try to both wonderful things and horrible things — faster than you’ll say “5G.”