With the dawn of 5G networks, we begin to see a new age of technology that will change the way we do business and go about our everyday lives.
As you may know, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile network technology. It’s poised to make our everyday lives easier, faster, and more convenient by bringing high-speed internet to our phones. It will also bring self-driving cars in your neighbourhood, expand virtual reality capabilities, and make it easier for remote workers to stay connected.
However, like all technological advances, 5G is not without its risks. Here are some things you need to know about the security risks associated with this emerging technology.
5G Could Bring New Vulnerabilities
The 5G network will be different from 4G, and it won’t be backward compatible. Some of the devices for 4G might not work on 5G, which means that there will be an overlap where companies will have to maintain two networks: one for 4G and one for 5G. Maintaining two networks at once is difficult because the older devices could still use 4G, but they might have vulnerabilities that haven’t been exposed yet.
Increased Attacks on Critical Infrastructure
We have seen plenty of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure in the past two decades. With the advent of 5G, there are likely to be even more attacks on critical infrastructure facilities.
A significant reason behind this is the fact that 5G networks use physical fibre optic cables as well as wireless signals, which makes them an easier target for hackers and rogue nations looking to gain access and control over everything from traffic lights and power grids to street cameras.
Faster Attack Propagation Speeds
Some mobile networks already route traffic through multiple devices, making it difficult to trace the origin of an attack. With 5G, intrusions could propagate even faster because of how the network is designed. 5G uses software-defined networking (SDN) to improve performance, which relies on software rather than hardware to route traffic.
This makes it easier for hackers to gain control of multiple devices at once by compromising just one piece of equipment or service. Suppose a hacker compromises a telecom company’s SDN controller, for instance. In that case, they could take over all the routers in, its data centres in one fell swoop — potentially enabling them to steal customer information or launch widespread denial-of-service attacks.
5G networks also introduce new authentication methods that could create opportunities for hackers. For example, SIM-Swap fraud — a hacker convinces a mobile carrier to switch a victim’s phone number to a SIM card controlled by the hacker — has been used to gain access to bank accounts and other sensitive information.
Hacked IoT Devices Could be Used to Launch DDoS Attacks
DDoS is a type of cyberattack that floods a target with so much traffic that it can’t respond to legitimate requests. The volume of IoT devices connecting to 5G networks will create new opportunities for hackers to hijack them and launch DDoS attacks on servers, applications, websites, and even cellular networks. One of the most significant 5G onboarding projects will involve intelligent city technology, which could make millions of people vulnerable in a single attack.
Fake Base Stations
Using a laptop with an attached software-defined radio, attackers can create fake base stations and intercept communications between users’ devices and network operators. Of course, this puts sensitive information at risk. As such, it would be best to be connected with VPN on Windows PC since the last thing you would want is to enable hackers to inject malware into legitimate traffic or steal sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers.
Denser Networks make it Easier for Hackers to Target Users
Because 5G is so much faster than 4G, it makes sense for carriers to set up more towers in the same area. That’s great for consumers, but it also means there are more points where a bad actor can try to intercept the data being transmitted.
Hackers could use software vulnerabilities to disable entire cities.
It’s not hard to imagine a nightmare scenario where a hacker targets a major city with an attack that disables the local cellular network. Once they’re shut down, it would be difficult for anyone to call 911 or access other emergency services. This kind of attack is possible with today’s 4G infrastructure, but the increased number of towers makes it even easier for an attacker to simultaneously take out an entire network.
So, is 5G worth it? The short answer is yes. 5G will move us closer to the IoT. Every device can be connected and controlled via the internet, where consumers can easily access cloud-based services and where remote medical care can be provided more efficiently.
Nevertheless, with the benefits come risks. In fact, given how critical mobile networks are in our lives, the risks are higher than ever. This is because the way 5G is being implemented leaves open new holes that hackers can exploit — holes that were not there before. As a result, we must take a proactive approach to security to ensure that hackers don’t take advantage of these new vulnerabilities.