Securing the 5G Future

CISOs throughout the telecommunications industry are preparing their data protection programs for a 5G future that will fully arrive in three to five years. Today, consumers have noticed their cellular devices begin to market and show the 5G label. But the not-too-distant future brings 5G in a wide range of areas such as artificial/augmented reality, production monitoring and delivery via 5G drones, on-demand private 5G networks and a wide variety of use cases. At the same time, or shortly thereafter, CEOs in other industries will confront similar 5G risks and opportunities.

5G is currently available in the U.S., but only in a limited capacity, as telecommunications companies make massive investments in the technology and infrastructure required to migrate from existing 3G and 4G networks.

The new 5G towers being installed throughout the country will deliver 1,000X more data to 100X more devices with download speeds measured in gigabytes as opposed to the megabyte pace of 4G. From an infrastructure standpoint, telecommunications companies need to determine how they will leverage and protect the massive increase in data coursing through their networks. CISOs in other industries — especially manufacturing, automotive, healthcare and the public sector — should also begin determining how to secure and leverage the data superabundance that 5G will produce.

Within a few years, telecoms will be standing up private networks that provide 5G connectivity in response to client needs and events. For example, fire, police and other first responders will be able to immediately stand up a 5G network to hasten the exchange of communications and data with hospitals, police, the community and other stakeholders.

5G also will further transform the driving experience. Drivers could have the option of uploading personal data (blood type, drug allergies, etc.) to their vehicles, as the information would prove crucial from a medical care perspective in the event of an accident. Data from the vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system also could be shared over a 5G network so that when a crash occurs, important information such as the vehicle’s speed, impact angle, location and other crash data (along with the driver’s personal health data) are instantly transmitted to emergency response teams in order to expedite the
appropriate triage at the scene and bring relevant expertise and materials needed.

This life-saving scenario hinges on the degree to which large amounts of data at the network’s end point can be managed in a highly available, low latency and utmost secure manner given the sensitivity of the information.

Some 5G risks and opportunities will materialize in less than three years; others will take longer to play out: The rapid speed of disruptive innovations enabled by 5G and other emerging technologies was the third-highest ranked risk for 2030, as projected by the global collection of 1,081 C-level executives and directors surveyed by Protiviti.

Today, CISOs are working through who has responsibility for storing, securing, and safely disposing of that data in hundreds of 5G use-case scenarios, many of which could come online by 2025. How well CISOs and their organizations leverage 5G opportunities and prepare for the risks associated with the technology depends on how quickly they get in place plans and mechanisms for securing the approaching data superabundance today.

To learn more about our CISO Next initiative, contact us

Michael Lyons

Managing Director
Security and Privacy

Geoff Weathersby

Emerging Technology Solutions

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