Making sure 5G networks are a friend, not a foe, to organizations

5G circuit board

Over the last five years, 5G has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the technology industry, with the largest telecommunication providers and the latest devices offering the service. Whilst it does offer lightning-fast internet speeds, real-time connectivity, and many more benefits, there is a catch.

5G creates businesses both opportunities and dangers, with cyber criminals using the technology to aid their attacks and breach networks. Therefore, organizations must understand the cyber threats that are present within their 5G networks and how they can be stopped.

The cyber threats presented to organizations when using 5G

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5G networks allow people to freely connect with others from any location across the globe, from any device and at any time. However, when organizations add more devices to their network, it increases their attack surface. Security teams are then faced with the double-whammy of struggling to maintain visibility across the entire network and providing gaps for threat actors to exploit.

With organizations struggling to fill in security gaps, they are left vulnerable to devastating attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on 5G service interfaces, and the exploitation of software or hardware vulnerabilities leading to zero-day exploits.

What’s more, once threat actors have breached 5G networks, they usually have the freedom to wreak havoc as they wish. Typically, cyber criminals will deploy malware on employees’ devices, and then move laterally from 5G networks to the users  employer’s network and corporate environment, which could result in chaos for the business.

Why has this problem been allowed to linger?

As there is such a serious security risk when it comes to using 5G networks, it might seem quite perplexing that these have not been sorted. However, 5G technology is still in its infancy and the vulnerabilities that lurk within the technology have not all been discovered. Naturally when businesses do not fully understand the security issues that come with a technology then they are likely to prioritize other capabilities, such as connectivity and networking performance

Whilst the issue may seem serious, we are starting to see attitudes towards security change in the telecoms industry. We have seen more and more organizations start to recognize the security issues that come with 5G. For example, enterprises are making sure they have the correct policies and frameworks in place to protect them against DDoS attacks, kernel bypasses, and the lateral movement of malware.

Linking networking performance and security together

Whilst organizations must secure their 5G networks, it is also a completely wasted exercise if it hampers networking performance and connectivity. The main advantage of 5G is connectivity, if security damages that, the technology doesn’t meet the needs of the business and users. Therefore, enterprises need a solution which can marry both networking performance and security together.

Technologies such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), can bring a tighter integration between networking and security through a single architecture. This then kills two birds with one stone by providing maximum security without compromising the connectivity benefits of 5G.

SASE can help fight against modern cyber threats by ensuring that all endpoints receive the same amount of security coverage, ensuring that security teams have visibility across the entire network. Furthermore, SASE segments the network, therefore restricting the movement of malware and preventing the possibility of a major cyberattack starting from someone’s phone.

Clearly, 5G is an integral part of modern society and will not be going away anytime soon. Therefore, organizations must ensure that they have the technology that can combat the modern cyber threats thrown at it.

Image credit: denisismagilov/depositphotos.com

Sunil Ravi is Chief Security Architect at Versa Networks.

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