We are certainly in unique times, with COVID driving digital transformation at an unprecedented pace, remote work appearing to be long term, and the specter of new threats looming over security professionals as they strategized how to protect a rapidly changing business and tech landscape. To use perhaps one too many cliches: it is the best of times, it is the worst of times, the times are a changin’, and a change will do you good. No really, it will.
The silver lining in all of this is that the transformations enterprises are making today sets the stage for the next generation of compute that will drive business globally — I am talking about 5G and edge computing. Not convinced? Take a peek into the just released AT&T Cybersecurity Insights™ Report: 5G and the Journey to the Edge, which is based on a global survey of 1,000 IT, security, and line-of-business leaders, research from IDC, and dozens of interviews with subject matter experts across security and networking.
The report explores how 5G will impact security, including the opportunities for businesses to evolve their security approach and benefits of transitioning to 5G and the edge. Interestingly, data from the report clearly shows that many of the changes companies are making today, such as virtualizing security and network controls and focusing on frameworks like Zero Trust, are bringing them closer to what’s going to be required for securing 5G and the edge, as well as the IoT explosion both will drive.
No, 5G infrastructure is not yet globally ubiquitous, but believe-you-me, the world is quickly marching toward that. According to IDC, mid 2020 saw 93 operators having deployed 5G networks across more than 40 countries, and IDC has forecasted that worldwide 5G connections will grow from 13.6 million in 2019 to 1.8 billion by 2024 — which means 5G will make up approximately 15% of all cellular-based mobile and IoT connections.
Enterprises are taking notice, with 93.5% worldwide researching, implementing, or having completed a 5G initiative, according to the AT&T global survey for the Insights Report. Yes, the train has left the station. Why? Because 5G and edge provide a leg up for business, and this is clearly being recognized: 60% of enterprises globally believe 5G and edge computing will help to provide a competitive advantage. And so, the digital transformation journey to the edge has begun.
As enterprises make this transition, security is the top concern. No surprise, right? However, two key themes, which arose from our research for the Insights Report, are fundamentally shifting the conversation around security . First, security has truly moved from the basement to the boardroom, a change that was no doubt accelerated by COVID and the realization that enterprise networks and the security that protects them are absolutely integral to business continuity. In other words, the digital transformation to 5G and edge computing is not happening without the security stakeholders at the table. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the way we approach security as we move to the future is absolutely going to change. Security leaders are acknowledging the challenge ahead in order to protect the business and minimize risks, while the enterprise attack surface grows exponentially large and complex due to the promise of billions of devices interconnecting in the future.
How are they preparing? Here are some highlights from the report. Download your copy for the details.
- Zero Trust (ZT) has become a top priority, with 94% of enterprises researching, implementing, or having completed a ZT initiative.
- Security of data is key to moving into a 5G future. Data privacy, data loss and prevention, data encryption, and access to that data, including network access security and identity and access management, are the most important security capabilities to organizations as they transition to 5G.
- 5G and the edge are driving an increasingly software-centric world, in which network and security virtualization will help provide that security can be managed at scale. In fact, the promise of faster and more agile software-driven service functions like software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization, was stated as the top driver for 5G implementation in 12 – 18 months.
- Endpoint security, including mobile, IoT, and industrial IoT, will continue to grow in importance, and enterprises are challenged to figure out how to best protect these assets. Device encryption and mobile threat detection are among the top security and network technologies organizations will deploy in the next 12-18 months as they try to figure this out.
And finally, as enterprises embark on their digital transformation to 5G and the edge, many are seeking guidance — 57% will work with an MSSP or other service provider in protecting their organization’s 5G implementation. Look, we’re venturing into new territory, so it’s no surprise that security professionals globally are seeking help. As you consider your digital transformation to tomorrow, download the AT&T Cybersecurity Insights™ Report: 5G and the Journey to the Edge, and see what your peers have been most challenged by along with recommendations on how to address those challenges.
There's also a webcast on the report to attend!