Telecommunications networks have come a long way. Once designed with voice transmission as the primary goal, they have evolved with more data management in mind. However, as they passed through the generations, becoming more and more software-based, security vulnerabilities emerged. Cellular 5G was the first platform designed for devices and the need to transmit data rather than voice.
Private networks are growing in popularity as the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 continue to show an almost endless scope of applications, all demonstrating value by increasing productivity, efficiency and security, while reducing waste and environmental impact. Industries such as ports, manufacturing, mining, utilities, airports and process are rapidly deploying private cellular networks not only to improve their own bottom lines, but also to increase security. But even the latest generation – 5G – is not 100% invulnerable to hackers.
With power comes responsibility
Now we know what 5G has to offer Industry 4.0: Ultra-high-speed, ultra-low-latency data communications at scale, enabling technologies such as digital twins, augmented reality, and robots to work. As the first platform to leapfrog the traditional telecom industry, 5G is now seen as a key enabler of digitization for all sectors of society and all economic verticals.
As businesses and organizations ramp up their digitization programs and begin to adopt sophisticated use cases requiring more reliable connectivity with increased bandwidth capabilities, high-performance 5G connectivity will be critical to securing service level agreements. , while optimizing costs, production and energy efficiency. However, creating and moving treasure troves of valuable data will attract the attention of cybercriminals, making data security and privacy a fundamental necessity, while compliance regulations make it a liability.
Despite the headlines, the security landscape isn’t all bleak
Even if the press passes off offenses as the norm, there is hope. For starters, 5G networks were built with security in mind, with better intrinsic safety features and protection of data transport over the air. Private cellular networks, just because they are closed and private, are already even more secure, but they are not immune to a motivated cybercriminal. Almost nothing is.
This is where working with experienced partners becomes essential. Security cannot be tackled alone – it is simply too complex a task. Security should be a collective effort by everyone within an organization and across the ecosystem. Tools such as AI-powered automation and orchestration are essential to making security operations manageable. Each time a new device is added to a network, it must be provisioned, secured, and managed. Each device also increases an organization’s attack surface that needs to be protected. Along with the proliferation of private 5G networks and the variety of deployments, there will be a much greater diversity of potential victims of a cyberattack.
In addition to external threats, as the number of private networks reaches tens and hundreds of thousands, the potential for internal attacks and internal threats will increase. With each new system user added, the risk increases. In the past, public networks had a limited number of system administrators, but with the rise of private networks, there will be many more, capable of causing harm both intentionally and accidentally.
Security is no longer limited to phone calls, web browsing, and the backend equipment that enables it all. Today, insecurity within critical communication networks not only affects human lives, but also opens doors to ecological threats. All it takes is a single, misconfigured device or setting to allow hackers to gain a foothold in a company’s network, from which they can infiltrate the rest of the organization’s valuable data stores. business.
Advanced solutions like Ericsson Private 5G were designed specifically to address the complexities of managing and securing a large IoT communications network. It was designed from the ground up to approach security from multiple angles and complements the existing security features already inherent in 5G and is capable of significantly improving security in the face of the modern threat landscape.
Towards a safer future
With the continued rise of Industry 4.0, we are witnessing a convergence of information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and telecommunications processes. 5G technology now goes beyond the realm of traditional telecommunications. Not just in the realm of business, but in virtually every facet of our economies and our society. This requires changing the way security is managed.
Traditional and legacy domain-specific approaches simply cannot be forcefully integrated to span the intersection where businesses find themselves today. End-to-end approaches to security need to step back and approach convergence as a completely new situation, requiring new and different thinking that looks at it as a whole, rather than three pieces together. We simply cannot reuse inherited methods and practices. Now is the time to develop new security solutions and approaches to better adapt to the way Industry 4.0 is already changing our world.
To learn more about Ericsson Private 5G and how to ensure maximum network security for the future, please read “How to redefine secure on-premises connectivity with a private network.”
Read our guide to 5G network security 2.0