Here's what 5G Ultra Wideband has to offer us in 2021

Filip Chytrý, 14 January 2021

While 5G UWB allows businesses to create new technologies, they must also support security and privacy

As we embark on a new orbit around the sun, many of us have high hopes for a brighter year in 2021 than 2020 offered. In the world of technology, there is some validity to that statement as major network operators across the globe race to provide true 5G Ultra Wideband (UWB) service to their customers — the value of 5G in the global economy is estimated to pass $11 trillion by 2026.

The improved capabilities that 5G UWB offers, such as higher data throughput, ultra-low latency, increased reliability and ubiquitous connectivity, create new possibilities for the development of complex IoT product environments that involve increasingly interdependent decision-making between multiple service, software, and hardware providers with little to no room for disruption.

While 5G creates new opportunities for businesses to innovate, it also raises the costs for businesses to secure and protect their new products and services from malicious security threats.

How will 5G UWB change the world we live in today?

Not only will 5G UWB’s hyperconnectivity enhance the daily lives of many, it will also play a transformative role in establishing a new higher standard of living. As throughput, reliability, latency, and connectivity reach new heights, we will start to see traditional technology for everyday applications become increasingly replaced or enhanced by a new generation of 5G-enabled applications. Innovation for new connected IoT applications will be incentivized to lean towards highly complex and interdependent product environments composed of providers that specialize in lower-cost and higher-efficiency components of functionality.

5G UWB risks from interdependencies within product environments 

One of the most anticipated use cases for 5G UWB is the use of augmented reality (AR). As 5G UWB enables high data throughput, ultra-low latency, and ultra-reliable connectivity, product environments will have the ability to handle higher amounts of interdependent processes for never-before-seen applications. These highly entwined processes pose risks for a cyber attack to have a domino effect — an exploitation in a less-protected component could lead to an exploitation in a critical component of the product environment. 

What are the risks and challenges? 

1. More scale means more attack surface: Increasing scale in adoption of connected product environments over traditional unconnected devices to carry out highly critical applications. As more service, software and hardware providers take roles within product environments, more data needs to be stored and shared, which increases the surface area of attack for cybercriminals. In the use case of autonomous vehicles, any latency in data sharing between sensors and downtime of wireless connectivity caused by malicious actors will cause critical harm to users’ physical safety — the digital and physical worlds are beginning to merge into one. 

2. Complex interdependencies result in weak points in security: As connected product environments adopt new provider-based models, the increased number of complex interdependencies creates risk for a domino effect from any security issue. Each provider within the product environment is only as strong as its weakest link in the chain. Security standards are fragmented — those that may deem to have less risk of vulnerability and therefore have a lesser form of security may jeopardize the other providers with higher risks for vulnerability. 

3. AI decision-making algorithms sharing data creates added risk: As an increasing amount of AI is used to streamline and automate decision-making across product environments, the amount of data being transferred between cloud databases for algorithm transparency also increases. These added amounts of data being shared and made transparent would pose an added risk for product environments to be exploited by malicious actors. 

Risks and challenges can be mitigated by a catch-all solution

Network operators have a large role to play in ensuring the future of connected product environments are protected. In a 5G-enabled world, operators provide the wireless connectivity needed for all applications to run — products and services are dependent on the hyper connectivity made possible by 5G operators. Regardless of which provider in a product environment is performing what functionality, all data will pass through the network operator that is providing the wireless connectivity, making it not only imperative, but also highly effective for operators to act as the gatekeepers in keeping data safe and secure.

Network operators can ensure they are holding the highest standard in providing digital security to customers by partnering with security vendors who have a robust track record and security tech stack. Moreover, a security vendor with security technology specialized in protecting 5G operators’ software defined networks (SDN) and virtualized network functions (VNF).

Microsegmentation is a concept security vendors have begun to adopt in protecting 5G edge-based networks. Microsegmentation isolation happens in a similar way to how separate VLANs are set up on at-home consumer gateways to isolate and prevent compromised network traffic from moving laterally — the difference is that this takes place on the SDN and VNF at the network edge (before even reaching the consumer’s home). 

Peace of mind creates better business for everyone

By working together with security vendors to protect data passing through their network, operators create peace-of-mind value not only for themselves, but also for product environment service providers and consumers. 

Operator value

  • Operators can generate new revenue beyond traditional revenue streams by providing security services for service providers and consumers. 

  • Providing safe wireless connectivity will help operators differentiate from others as a trusted partner in a highly saturated and competitive market.

Provider value

  • Providers who provide higher-quality and safer products will see improvements in customer retention and increase customers’ trust in their brand.

  • Providers can focus on innovating their products and services rather than spending resources on addressing concerns over security risks.

Consumer value

  • Consumers can have peace-of-mind knowing that they are out of harm's way by using safe and protected products and services.

Avast Smart Life 

Avast has over 30 years of experience as a leader in the global cybersecurity and privacy space and over 15 years of experience partnering with network operators around the world. This experience has led to flexible partnerships with enterprise-grade integrations and support.

Additionally, Avast benefits from having an immense cloud-based machine learning engine that receives a constant stream of data from over hundreds of millions of users, which facilitates learning at unprecedented speeds for its AI engine. Avast’s flagship partner solution, Avast Smart Life for 5G, allows network operators to offer security services in protecting IoT devices, handsets, and sensitive data. To learn more about Avast Smart Life, read here or visit our website

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