Industry Trends

Prepare Now for 5G Security Transformation

By Fortinet | February 26, 2019

This blog is an executive summary of an article by Fortinet’s Jonathan Nguyen-Duy that appeared on the Light Reading SecurityNow website on January 29, 2019, entitled, “5G Security Transformation: Why Businesses Need to Prepare Now.”

5G is set to transform our wireless experience. 5G networks will launch a new era of wireless networking and connected solutions, driving the number of 5G users to grow to more than a billion by 2023. Organizations that want to capitalize on 5G’s faster speeds, lower latency, more reliable connections, and support for new services need to prepare now to address the impact that its potentially explosive rate of growth and innovation will have on their business, along with a related surge in new security challenges.

Wireless networking will evolve into an open platform that will provide virtually unlimited capacity and service convergence. For example, 5G will provision computing services closer to end users, enabling 5G servers to act as application servers. Additionally, enhanced base station capacity will enable the delivery of new applications and services beyond traditional mobile computing services, such as support for industrial environments, physical access controls, office networks, and support for things like autonomous vehicles, augmented/virtual reality, and registerless retail.

5G Security Transformation: Why Businesses Need to Prepare Now.”

5G Security Implications

Digital transformation efforts underway at many organizations are just the start. Supporting 5G’s new services and business opportunities will require organizations to significantly reshape many of the traditional relationships between networks, local and mobile computing resources, and end users. These changes will have a tremendous impact on cybersecurity. Tomorrow’s security must support elastic, edge-to-edge hybrid strategies to address new challenges, including:

  • New risks to critical infrastructure: 5G will accelerate high-speed interconnectivity between critical infrastructure resources, expanding the potential attack surface.
  • Vulnerable resources that are moved to the edge: Migrating workloads to the 5G-empowered edge will combine the cybersecurity risks of endpoint computing with those of the cloud.
  • Hybrid computing that further erodes the perimeter: When wireless networks move to 5G, highly mobile connectivity and hybrid computing will become the norm. Critical functions that rely on massive amounts of data and near-real time computing will be moved to the edge where perimeter security solutions have no traction.

Enabling Change Through Cybersecurity

The key to addressing the coming security challenges of 5G networks is to be proactive. Organizations can start today by ensuring that the following four security strategies are in place before 5G disrupts their network.

  • Upgrade threat intelligence: Addressing cybercriminal innovation targeted at 5G vulnerabilities requires the continuous collection, upgrading, and honing of threat intelligence. This intelligence then needs to be combined with machine learning and AI to immediately consume and deploy effective countermeasures.
  • Adopt a Zero Trust strategy: The era when an implicit trust model can work inside a network is over. Organizations need to consider who and what can access other resources, and what would happen if those connections were compromised. This means every user, device, transaction, and request for network access must be verified, validated, and authenticated.
  • Segment your network: Segmenting devices, workflows, applications, and transactions are critical for containing cybersecurity risks and protecting sensitive resources. New segmentation strategies will need to dynamically extend from the edge to the core, and negotiate secure access across network segments that you may or may not own.
  • Integrate your security: Automated adaptability is essential, especially during times of rapid change, enabling entire security infrastructures to automatically address detected shifts in attacks and network behavior and then simultaneously deploy new or updated capabilities directly to where they are needed.

5G offers the promise of more innovation, productivity, and quality-of-life outcomes through tremendously faster and more reliable connectivity that can support a new generation of rich services. To prepare for this opportunity, cybersecurity technologies and best practices need to be seen as enabling strategies. This starts by implementing an integrated and adaptable security fabric that ensures that your security framework won't get in the way of your organization's ability to take advantage of this new opportunity.

For a deeper analysis of this topic, please refer to the original byline article, “5G Security Transformation: Why Businesses Need to Prepare Now,” posted on the LightReading SecurityNow website authored by Fortinet’s Jonathan Nguyen-Duy.