Does 5G pose a security risk?

5G should evolve in a local, robust ecosystem: Expert

Telecom analyst and founding partner of MoffettNathanson LLC Craig Moffett discusses the risk of relying on Huawei and says there aren’t always ways to generate revenue to support all the capital investment needed to build 5G networks.

Some cybersecurity experts warn that fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless-capable devices could be more prone to hacking attempts due to an increase in web traffic and without proper security foundations in place.

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Some 94 percent of mobile operators and tech experts "believe dramatic growth in traffic, connected devices and mission-critical use cases" as a result of 5G "will significantly increase security and reliability concerns," a 2019 study entitled, "Securing the Future of a Smart World" from business research company BPI Network found.

5G technology, which is already in its beginning stages of deployment in the U.S. and other countries, is expected to bring record internet speeds and more reliable connections. 5G networks are also expected to transform industries from farming to health care to media.

A woman browses her smartphone in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The point of 5G is to connect devices belonging to the Internet of Things, meaning it will help connect phones and computers to other smart devices, which will be especially beneficial for people living in rural areas.

But with these ultra-fast and multi-faceted connections brings security concerns, the BPI study found.

"The consequences of security breaches will increase dramatically, with the advent of mission-critical applications on 5G networks, such as autonomous vehicles, remote patient monitoring and surgery in health care, and smart cities, factories and homes," BPI noted in the study. "As a result, 5G must be built on solid security foundation."

Cellular site equipment in London, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter)

Mobile operators' responses suggested that 5G security concerns and 5G performance concerns were nearly on par with each other, according to BPI.

Cybersecurity website Kaspersky listed 5G-related security concerns as the following: decentralized security (more traffic routing points that need to be monitored), more bandwidth that will strain monitoring efforts, smart devices that are built with weak security and a lack of encryption in the early connection process.

To make 5G more secure, providers should put security foundations in place before deployment, manufacturers should have incentives to increase security and consumers should be educated about the security concerns related to 5G.

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