The 5G network is in the offing, and everyone is awaiting for its debut. Why not! It’s much faster than 4G network with a transfer rate of 70 gigabits per second. Not only will there be interconnected devices with 5G but the end user will have an immensely immersive experience with movies, virtual reality, and videos. Everyone is really excited. But the question that arises that with this complicated network and data being transferred between devices, is it reliable and secure. It’s much more than you had expected.
The connected world of 5G
Not only will the 5G network give your phone a ten times faster network with videos and movies downloading in seconds, but it will also give you a much reliable connection as well. You would be able to connect more gadgets at the same time to your network which would also be communicating among themselves. The 5G network will be much more than smartphones as there will be thousands of sensors, robots, cars, thermostats and other devices that will be connected to the 5G network.
The 4G network of today does not have the band width to accommodate such vast amount of data such devices would be transmitting. The 5G network would also reduce the time lag between communications through devices and data centers to zero. Devices and machines like driverless cars would require uninterrupted communication between the car, data centers, and other cars along with outside sensors. To accomplish all of these, 5G would be needed to travel over very high and super-high frequency airwaves. Such high frequencies would usher in high speed in communication along with bandwidth.
As there would be obstructions like rooftops, walls, and windows the strength of the signals would get considerably weaker as they travel across distances. This points out that the wireless companies would have to install an umpteenth number of miniature cell towers everywhere and probably in every house and room to provide the adequate speed of communication. Thus 5G is not about communication among the smartphones or a mobile network but a faster and wider communication network for all interconnected devices. This will help the vertical industries too to come up with new services. The Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, and the connected driverless vehicles will not only require a ubiquitous and faster network with high latency but higher security as well.
Addressing 5G Security
No doubt, the new age of interconnected devices and new services through faster communications will be run on new technologies and architecture posing newer challenges for privacy protection and security. The security requirements can widely vary across different devices and services. For example, the mobile IoT devices would require lightweight security, but the high-speed mobile services may require more efficient and tight security measures.
The 5G security design should not be device-centric but all-encompassing for providing protection from the theft of data from a world where everything is connected. This would require service-oriented systems with a special stress on privacy and security of data. The network-based security system of today that follows a hop-by-hop approach to secure and protect the locus between communicating devices may not be enough. There has to be a more efficient end-to-end security system for various services. With the gain of the momentum of IoT, more people and devices would be able to communicate or operate remotely networked devices. For instance, for operating a smart home, there is a need for a tighter authentication procedure like biometrics or retinal scanning to prevent unauthorized access.
The service providers and the device manufacturers would have to think of the privacy and the data protection issues right from the beginning as ignoring them may affect the quality of the product making it expensive in the long run. With the introduction of 5G, the newer technologies like Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) would emerge and take over for new services to operate. For this reason, the security design of the 5G network will have to consider issues for deploying, managing, and isolating different networks separately and securely.
Another challenge for the security designers is to build a robust security architecture suitable for accessing different technologies and servicing them. The devices of tomorrow and the IoT will have varying choices in the way they access different networks. They may either connect to the network directly, through a gateway, device-to-device or in a relay order. For such connections to occur, the networks would need to sense the type of service the device or the user is requesting for, and this may involve invasion of the user’s privacy. Together with all these issues, it seems that 5G will have more complex security challenges that it has to redress.