Here's what you need to know about the 5G revolution

Filip Chytrý 15 Sep 2020

Everything you need to know about the 5G revolution, from performance to security

While 2020 has been a year filled with unexpected events, one highly anticipated evolution in the next generation of network connectivity did meet its forecast: 5G connectivity. What's more, 5G is coming in a timely manner, as we see new shifts in remote work and social distancing becoming the new norms across the globe.

For the past decade, 5G has been evangelized by mobile carriers for being the future of our digital world. In today’s latest buzz, mobile carriers in the U.S. have publicly announced their plans for nationwide 5G coverage to subscribers by the end of 2020. 

What can we expect from a rollout of nationwide 5G coverage?

In the coming months and years, we can expect to see shifts for all players at the table to continue the momentum for the 5G revolution: Mobile carriers will continue to expand their 5G network infrastructure, adding additional cell towers that support ultra-wideband frequency ranges. Handset and IoT device manufacturers will introduce an increasing number of 5G-enabled devices. Innovators will test their creative capabilities and introduce new services and experiences made possible by 5G connectivity. Additionally, users will grow their awareness and adoption of next-generation devices, services and experiences.

So what does this mean for all of us? As the next generation of network infrastructure, devices and services, and user adoption rises, 5G connectivity will bring three key performance benefits:

  1. Drastically higher data throughput: Up to 20 gigabits-per-second, allowing users to download higher volumes of content more quickly.

  2. Ultra-low latency: Down to 1 millisecond, enabling no-lag (milliseconds are imperceptible to humans) transfer of data between devices and networks. 

  3. Increased network capacity: Creating the network reliability needed for next-generation experiences and services that require increased capacity for data traffic. 

However, it's also a given that with new advancements in technology for good, there also comes new growths in malicious technology, such as malware. Each of the following are ways that 5G can also increase our security risks:

  • Increasing the number of connected devices expands the attack surface for cyber crime.

  • As network address translation (NAT) becomes obsolete with the adoption of IPv6 (128-bit addresses) to meet the increasing demand of IP addresses for small devices, attackers are more likely to discover individual devices to hack.

  • Adding new services and experiences for users introduces new attack vectors for malware.

  • Undefined security obligations and responsibilities create holes for security vulnerabilities in all of the new technologies being built and designed. 

Can’t we just design new security and privacy solutions to combat new security risks?

Admittedly, security and privacy have not evolved as efficiently as wireless connectivity has. Here are a few flaws we have seen historically in the evolution of security:

  • Security is constrained by only threats we know or can imagine for the near future (zero day attacks are inevitable).

  • When a security or privacy vulnerability is discovered, priority and urgency for security and privacy is pushed to the top -- once the problem has been rectified, security and privacy is pushed to the side once more. 

  • Security designs are an afterthought behind other considerations, such as usability, interoperability or a faster time to market.

By the few security flaws explained above, this proves to be a problematic framework in keeping up with 5G innovation (and the security vulnerabilities that evolve in parallel) that is growing exponentially. We need to first address these flaws and rethink our approach to security and privacy in a 5G world. Mobile carriers that provide 5G service to users are also responsible and obligated to protect them. Security and privacy AI must be rigorous in protecting against today’s and managing tomorrow’s security threats. Finally, all players need to have a security-by-design approach to all new 5G technologies.

If there is one realization from our quick readout of the new 5G landscape, it’s that security and privacy needs not to be overlooked more than ever before. Avast Smart Life can detect unusual behavior and shut down malicious attacks before they can cause harm to the family by bringing together cybersecurity for all connected devices. In addition to keeping users and their devices safe, Smart Life also has parental control features, allowing parents to monitor their child’s internet use and prevent malicious online threats. 

Find out more on how you can have a security-by-design approach with your products and solutions through partnering with Avast.

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