What Is ‘5G’?

March 22, 2024

Introduction

Do your devices run on 5G?

Do you know what 5G even is?

5G indicates the fifth generation of mobile networks. In other words, it’s the wireless technology that your smartphone uses to run and is touted as 200 times faster than the previous generation, 4G. Turn off your phone’s WiFi to find out what generation you’re running on.

Just like any new technology, the rollout of 5G networks will create new security risks for the growing number of connected people and machines that use 5G. Consequently, we need to develop new security solutions to protect our devices…especially as more and more people transition to 5G over time.

What Is 5G?

As the latest generation of cellular technology, 5G has been hailed as a revolutionary advancement because it offers faster speeds, lower latency and more reliable connections compared to previous generations like 4G.

What does that mean for the average user like us?

For starters, significantly faster download and upload speeds makes it easier to send and receive large files. It also loads webpages and applications faster, especially if that program usually takes a long time to render. If you stream media on the device in question, you might notice fewer hiccups and loading times.

5G also offers much lower latency than 4G (latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel between devices on a network). In other words, you can communicate with other people and devices much more efficiently. Applications will be more responsive; as a result, remote work opportunities will be even more streamlined and professional collaboration more productive. In fact, 5G positively influences work in another way too—because the fifth generation of mobile networks can handle a much larger number of connected devices. That enables it to support scaling companies, or even the growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices employed in your personal life, such as smart home appliances, wearable technology, and connected sensors.

Finally, 5G improves upon previous generations’ network coverage and stability. This is especially important because it supports continuous monitoring, which relies on an uninterrupted connection to protect your systems! The stronger the network, the more support your remote monitoring systems (and your device in general) will have.

The Dangers of 5G

All of this sounds great, right?

While developers and experts try their hardest to roll out new technology that’s completely impenetrable, there are always zero-day vulnerabilities lurking…which security engineers hope to find and patch before bad actors develop the tools and know-how to exploit them!

5G networks are capable of generating and processing vast amounts of data, including personal and sensitive information. Where personal data goes, threat actors follow; hence the need for proactive defense and routine security awareness training.

With more reliance on software, cloud computing, and a vast number of connected devices, 5G has a significantly larger attack surface for malicious actors to target and exploit. This problem is compounded by the rise in IoT devices connected to 5G networks; since many of these devices lack adequate security features, they are prime targets for cyberattacks. A compromised device can serve as a gateway to gain access to the entire network!

Just like previous generations, 5G networks are vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, ransomware and all other kinds of data breaches that you have hopefully learned about throughout your security awareness trainings and refreshers.

Conclusion

5G is neither inherently good nor bad; it is simply the next generation of mobile network that we, as a society, will rely on more and more as the cyber-landscape evolves. By implementing robust security measures and staying vigilant against emerging threats, we can ensure that 5G technology is used safely and responsibly!

Our networks rely on 5G…for now. There will undoubtedly be a 6G…and a 7G…on and on, each with their own benefits and security risks. Educating yourself about new services before you dive in will keep your devices safer in the long run, while still enjoying everything the web has to offer.

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