5G – performance and security

October 12th, 2019 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

5G is now available in many countries. Gartner research indicates that 66 per cent of organisations plan to deploy 5G by 2020, while 59 per cent intend to include IoT communications with 5G. However, many enterprises are underprepared to cope with the levels of data to be captured, shared, analysed, and stored in near-real time for its benefits to be realised.

The promise is higher bandwidth delivered at lower latency offers huge potential. predecesso. 4Ghas a current maximum download speed of 100 Mbps. 5G is expected to deliver 10 Gbps; download speeds 100 times faster than 4G. Any kind of lag in transmitting information for real-time decision-making can be problematic. ERP systems notoriously suffer when they scale up to multi geographies. Because of latency, a connection or transaction might timeout before being committed. To minimise the risk thin client connections are often adopted

When data travels thousands of miles to a cloud data centre, via multiple isp providers latency is a very real concern. Edge computing address this issue with micro data centres just outside the network i.e. at “edge.” to place compute and analytics power as close to the action as possible, to enable real-time decision-making. Data that doesn’t have to be processed immediately is routed to a cloud data centre for later use.

Consider self driving cars as IoT endpoints, band lack boxes at crossroads as edge computing points, with communication secured via 5G. Context is everything. Without the ability to instantly analyse and act upon data in context, 5G will offer less value. An isolated measurement e.g. a plane is cruising at 10,000 feet isn’t very useful, unless you know it was at 36,000 less than one minute beforehand. This contextual analysis is vital to get the best from IoT. Data still needs to be processed centrally. Edge computing can provide, more rapid, but more superficial insights, but it does not give context-rich data insights. So, while there’s a clear need to be prepared to collect data from distributed sources, there’s also a need to manage and act upon it centrally.

5G is here to stay, and the number and types of devices that will connect to the network will continue to increase
So how do you optimise and secure its use for different business requirements, First identify the requirements, the options and the threats.

Custom network configuration — known as network slicing is the most significant difference between 4G and 5G. In previous generations of wireless, the networks were configured universally, and each customer, and each network operator had few options for customisation or optimisation of their network configuration.

Vertical applications, each require different levels of performance and network slicing allows operators to offer customised resources for the different types of applications running on their network. The European Commission and the European Agency for Cybersecurity issued a report earlier this week,argues that, for 5G to work, telecommunications companies will increasingly rely on software, for things like network virtualisation and slicing.

A healthcare provider require, high reliability and low latency resources in their networked applications, redundancy for applications like remote surgery or heart monitoring run on the network.

For an IoT application, the needs are different. The of IoT data flowing over the network will be small amounts of data from many sensors. While reliability is still a factor, more important may be the management of a very high number of connections. Mobility management might not be particularly important for a large IoT network, because the connected devices might not move. Without the need to provision mobility for a network of millions of devices, the operator can save on capital expenditure.

According to a the European report, vendor lock-in, and potential cybersecurity are weak spots for telecommunications companies all over the world looking to integrate 5G, Given the USA- China trade war controversy this year its not surprising that many in media argue that the report’s concerns are targeted at Huawei even though the company’s name was never mentioned.

If, due to a lack of skilled staff, the telcos look to outsource to suppliers for soft
zware support, then will they put their entire operation at risk? “The increased role of software and services provided by third party suppliers in 5G networks leads to a greater exposure to a number of vulnerabilities that may derive from the risk profile of individual suppliers,” the report states. .”Major security flaws, such as those deriving from poor software development processes within equipment suppliers, could make it easier for actors to maliciously insert intentional backdoors into products and make them also harder to detect. This may increase the possibility of their exploitation leading to a particularly severe and widespread negative impact.”

The report argues that, countries should not only assess at the technical qualities of their potential suppliers but also analyse the “non-technical vulnerabilities related to 5G networks”, which includes having connections and/or doing business with the government. Lack of legislation, or “democratic checks and balances”, as well as the lack of security or data protection agreements between the supplier’s country and the EU are other concerns.

“……..hostile third countries may exercise pressure on 5G suppliers in order to facilitate cyberattacks serving their national interests,” the report states. “The degree of exposure to this risk is strongly influenced by the extent to which the supplier has access to the network, in particular its most sensitive assets, and by the risk profile of the individual supplier.”

If your digital journey includes scalability, IoT, Big Data and Predictive analytics, RPA and cross platform process automation then both 5g and Wifi6 will be enablers and their secure management and the overall solution architecture needs to be considered holistically.
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