Go back to overview

How Does 5G Affect Application Security?

12 November 2020

5G is a huge step forward in connectivity and speeds but this increase also brings security flaws. It’s not as simple as 3G to 4G. This step is as big as moving to broadband from dial-up. It offers faster speeds, lower latency, a more responsive system, and even less power usage. It carries more devices with a stronger connection at increased speeds but without sacrificing the reliability of service. It’s better than 4G by leaps and bounds.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of things or IoT is a term for a plethora of devices, all connected and operating together. It describes the network of physical devices and technology or “things” made with the purpose of connecting and exchanging data.

The current range is diverse and is used in every walk of life. However, it is limited by its current framework. 5G will bridge the gap for many devices that cannot sustain the connection. It will exponentially increase the devices contained within the IoT. These devices will be active and connected for longer and with less upkeep. Meaning more wireless accessibility not just in normal areas but also in remote or typically inconvenient areas. The unfortunate balance to the increased diversity of the IoT is that many of the devices are manufactured   This concern is shared among those in cybersecurity and there are hopes that security policies will be extended to the new devices that will share network space on 5G.

Why are there more risks with 5G?

5G connects more devices and services than ever before. It offers a massive opportunity for growth through the new networks. It’s not just a connection for your phone to the internet, not just sensors or software connections.

Current mobile traffic, those operating on 3 and 4G are mostly one-way connections. Mobile phones, data such as web-browsing and texting, it’s all a one-way connection. 5G breaks that pattern and instead accepts connections as well as sending them. This two-way system is stronger and faster but it opens further vulnerabilities.

5G will connect huge, integral services as well. These include healthcare, infrastructure, smart devices, and self-driving cars.  A breach into one of these services could critically compromise it.

With all of these connections, countless new avenues are opened through which malicious actors can attack. The highest concern among security experts is in regard to the larger attack surface due to the increase in connectivity.

As these systems and connections grow, there must be a stronger focus on the security of them. It’s a matter of safety for users and for any industry or country connected to them. If there is going to be such a huge step up in connectivity and accessibility, the security world will have to keep up.

What does it mean for application security?

Well, it means it’s time to step up to the plate. There’s a new world of connectivity and interactivity to be addressed. A world that is more connected than ever but that brings a whole swathe of security issues and concerns. It has already been demonstrated that 5G has vulnerabilities that can be exploited to hijack or deny service.

A multitude of services would all be connected on a shared network which allows faster connections and feedback but also offers the potential for a breach in one to be a breach in all.

The smaller scale is no less intimidating. For IoT applications, smart homes are no longer just connected to your WiFi, your private network. They would instead be linked in this two-way network and effectively would be public to those with the skills to exploit the link. With 5G, this two-way network would be home to a greater number of devices, all with access and all acting as potential entry points.

Cybersecurity must be ready for the mainstream introduction of 5G and businesses need to be aware of the potential security issues. For application security, it means embracing new and widespread benefits. However, it must also be a significant shift in focus on application defences.

If you would like to put your security to the test, feel free to get in touch for our expert penetration testing service.