China makes progress with 5G but increases cyberthreats. Source: Shutterstock

China makes progress with 5G but increases cyberthreats. Source: Shutterstock

China is leading with 5G but it needs to protect against cyberthreats

IN LINE WITH Xi Jinping’s directive on pioneering innovation, in a bid to harness big data and support the rise of the internet of things (IoT), companies in China have accelerated their journey to 5G.

From smart cities to intelligent factories, the country has made plenty of advances. Now, although it seems to be on the cusp of a new revolution, the country has unintentionally increased the cyberthreats it faces as more devices come online with 5G.

With 5G forecasted to rake in up to US$500 billion in the next 5 years, growth of the technology seems promising, but some work definitely needs to be done to protect against the cyberthreats.

Truth be told, 5G is seen as a gem as it promises a bright future for various industries.

In the healthcare sector, for example, it is forecasted that companies can save up to US$650 billion by 2025 with the help of 5G. Among healthcare professionals, there’s excitement about the fact that 5G will be used to assist medical practitioners to create better medical facilities.

The role of 5G in the medical world is not only limited to IoT, but also to facilitate augmented reality, virtual reality, and high-precision robotic arms.

Similarly, in the manufacturing sector, 5G acts as a driving force in atomizing and optimizing goods production. Along these lines, the private network is also expected to improve smart factories by supporting data privacy and security as well as network compliance and performance.

In the tourism sector, 5G is serving as a power-house enabling augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR).

Museums are adopting the private network to dramatize and revolutionize a typical visit. With 5G-powered AR and VR, visitors can now witness history replaying itself. Using IoT, museums are now offering immersive worldwide experiences for visitors.

The current spending on IoT is expected to increase from US$745 billion to US$1 trillion in the next 3 years.

Numerous industries are riding on this forecast at the expense of the rollout. As the network industry revolutionizes, so will cyber threats. Therefore, cybersecurity providers must not only identify, but understand the threats and risks that 5G will pose.

A report by Brookings recently identified several ways that 5G can serve as a threat:

  1. Since 5G is a software-defined network, it can be harder to inspect and control connection chokepoints. In other words, it would be a more tedious task to keep a network clean and clear of threats.
  2. Network functions can no longer be navigated physically as 5G virtualize most features in software mode. In one way or another, its vulnerability is compromised as common internet protocols can be manipulated by cybercriminals.
  3. The extensive and extreme expansion of 5G network and its bandwidth would result in more opportunities for cyberattacks as there are more avenues to be threatened. The expansion should, on the other hand, be on a planned and gradual phase to allow software functions to develop optimal cyber protections.

Overall, the roll out 5G has a very promising and technologically enriching outlook. With businesses competing to deploy 5G, the global era of “smart users” need to be protected against cyberthreats as soon as possible.