With new 5G revenues come security concerns: survey

According to a new survey, there’s widespread industry consensus that security challenges will escalate with the advent of 5G networks.

At least most operators are aware of the security threats so that they can protect against them. The survey was fielded by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network in partnership with A10 Networks, whose business is centered on security.

Some 94% of mobile respondents to the survey said they expect growth in network traffic, connected devices and mission-critical IoT use cases to significantly increase security and reliability concerns for 5G networks.

The operators ranked security only slightly behind increased network capacity and throughput in importance in their 5G network planning. Some 74% said capacity and throughput is “very important” in their 5G plans, while 67% ranked security as very important.

Of course, that left a certain percentage who said “no” or who didn’t know about their company's security plans, which amounted to a total of 6% of respondents.

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According to the survey, chief among security concerns are core network security and distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection. Advanced DDoS protection was identified as the most important security capability needed for 5G networks, while 98% of respondents said core network security was either very important (72%) or important (26%) in 5G buildouts.

Here are some other findings:

  • Some 72% of mobile respondents said they have either completed, nearly completed, or are making good progress toward virtualization at the network core.
  • 67% expect to deploy a 5G network in advance of finalization of all 5G standards (i.e., Release 16).
  • Operators believe automotive and cloud services industries will be the most disrupted business sectors because of 5G.

“We do see a mix of traditional physical network functions as well as virtual network functions (VNF),” but carriers are moving to VNFs where it makes sense and where it's possible, said Paul Nicholson, senior director, product marketing at A10 Networks.

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Due to the sheer number of industries impacted by 5G, that raises the stakes from a security point of view. Connected vehicles are one popular application, but numerous other sectors will be affected as well.

“I think this is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can happen with 5G,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “I think there’s also going to be a lot more disruption down the road,” in areas like manufacturing. There are customers, for example, who want to track tens of thousands of individual pallets from an inventory and delivery standpoint—and all those connected devices add up—and this doesn't even include home-based IoT objects.