New 5G consumption trends demand a new approach to security    

February 3, 2021 | Theresa Lanowitz

This blog was jointly authored with Lakshmi Ananderi Kandadai of Palo Alto Networks.

We are in the midst of unprecedented transformation – both business transformation and technical transformation.

From a technology perspective, 5G will change where and how we harness compute power and promote unforeseen product and service innovation. Once 5G attains critical mass with a robust ecosystem, it will touch nearly every organization, promising new revenue potential across a myriad of industries. The recent AT&T Cybersecurity Insights™ Report: 5G and the Journey to the Edge shows that globally 93% of respondents are either researching, implementing, or have completed a 5G initiative. And, firms that have completed 5G implementation expect approximately 57% growth in Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices over the next 18-36 months.    

5G is revolutionizing intelligent connectivity—driving massive adoption of the IoT. A report from industry analyst firm IDC estimates that 41.5 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2025. Another projected statistic is that there will be 1.9 billion 5G cellular subscriptions by 2024. The inherent vulnerabilities present in IoT devices make them a target-rich environment to be weaponized with botnets for the purpose of carrying out distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS attacks. The AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report highlights security priorities as IoT projects move from researching phase to implementing to completion. Vulnerability management becomes a higher priority as organizations reach the implementation and completion phases.

Competitive business differentiation is driving the adoption of 5G. We should expect to see 5G play a major role in areas such as smart cities, fleet management, smart factories, robotics, connected health, etc. The greater reliance on cloud and edge compute for these applications, creates a highly distributed environment spanning multi-vendor and multi-cloud infrastructures.

Further, end-to-end stand-alone 5G networks will be built based on cloud native service-based architectures. These emerging network architectures vastly impact the network security postures for service providers as well as the industry verticals they serve. Businesses need to establish a strong security posture that can stop cyber attackers from infiltrating their networks, disrupting critical services. The AT&T Cybersecurity Insights report highlights that enterprises are “cautiously optimistic and preparing for the impact of 5G”. The survey data indicates that almost 64% of survey participants rank their confidence in their organizations’ preparedness for the challenges 5G may bring to security as “medium to medium-high”.

Service providers and enterprises continue to face new malware-based incidents that threaten network availability and subscriber confidentiality.  According to the report, 76% of enterprises believe 5G will enable entirely new types of threats, those that are not simply extensions of today’s threats. These expanding threats and vulnerabilities— previously focused on the internet peering interfaces—can now exploit the application layer in other mobile network interfaces, degrade the customer experience, create network performance challenges, and affect operator revenues. Our partnership with Palo Alto Networks brings the industry’s first 5G-native security solution, designed from the ground-up, to help businesses navigate through the security implications of 5G, IoT, and the edge computing architectures.

Cybersecurity is more important than ever to protect the interconnected landscape. A high level of cybersecurity readiness is needed to proactively secure the data, applications, and services that will rely on new 5G investments. 5G will drive new consumption trends demanding a new approach to security.

Theresa Lanowitz

About the Author: Theresa Lanowitz

Theresa Lanowitz is a proven global influencer and speaks around the world on trends and emerging technology poised to help today’s IT organizations flourish. Theresa is currently the head of evangelism and communications at AT&T Cybersecurity. In 2006, Theresa founded industry analyst firm voke, to highlight emerging technologies and the benefits of adoption ahead of legacy analyst firms. Theresa has been a trusted advisor to some of the most innovative and influential companies and executives in the world. At voke, Theresa was the go-to collaborative analyst for software vendors focused on delivering transformational products, establishing new categories, and making a business case for technology adoption. From 1999 through 2006, Theresa was an industry analyst with Gartner. Theresa spearheaded the application quality ecosystem, championed application security technology, and created the successful Application Development conference. At Borland International Software, Theresa shipped the iconic Java integrated development environment, JBuilder. While at Sun Microsystems, Theresa worked on the Jini project – a precursor to IoT (Internet of Things). Theresa led strategic marketing and creation of early and futuristic use cases for Jini to highlight a world connected by devices. Theresa’s professional career began with McDonnell Douglas where she was a software developer on the C-17 military transport plane and held a US Department of Defense Top Secret security clearance. Theresa holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

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