5G and Cybersecurity: Hackers Dream

Is 5G going to be a hackers dream? 5G is told to be faster and better but is faster always better? 5G has the potential to have download speeds up to 10x faster than today’s speed. Does that also mean your information could be stolen at a much faster rate than before? I think possibly. 5G security technology is said not to be the problem. Weakness in communication between devices connected to the 5G and the device is said to be the problem. Embedded internet-connected sensors are needed more and more in everything from cars to traffic lights, which will continue to be a major problem. 5G is supposed to be improved with stronger encryption of data and better verification for network users but is it truly? No, one will really know until 5G has been fully implemented and used on a continuous basis. Since, not all vulnerabilities can be seen before use and 5G is a newly integrated network there will be risks involved. Malicious hackers see new technology as a target and that is why new technology is seen as more vulnerable than established technology.

With malicious hackers having the potential to scan hundreds of thousands of devices for weak security. Users still using passwords that were initially sold with the IoT devices are at a much greater risk than anyone else. Passwords such as “admin”, “guest” and “password” should all be changed to something complex to reduce the potential risk.

There are two common ways malicious hackers attack:

  • Botnet- controls internet-connected devices and use them as weapons in cyberattacks
  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)- overwhelms a network or website with more messages than it can handle, eventually leading to traffic going to incorrect destinations

In general, the network speed of 5G allows for increase in extraction and downloading of data at a much faster rate. Homes using 5G technology on fridges, smoke alarms and other smart devices connected to the internet that are not updated can cause an increase risk at home leading to information stored on those devices being stolen. If someone uses a 5G connection at home instead of using their corporate network, they are also increasing the risk of data being processed via their 5G network without knowing the potential risks involved. 5G cyberattacks with artificial intelligence (AI) is another risk that could increase “robocallers” who have the potential to mimic a family member or friend, cause large scale DOS attacks and/or video manipulation.  Currently, the government and others are working on ways to increase the security standards for 5G networks and IoT but it is not official when this will happen. Companies like AT&T have created a cybersecurity unit that specializes in IoT to help reduce the risk and common mistakes of IoT devices being hacked but more companies definitely need to follow suit.

With the potential benefit of malicious hackers using 5G technologies, malicious hackers now have to decide where the money will go that they earned from selling valuable information.

Some current flaws with 5G include: exposure of location; spoofing of emergency alerts; tracking phone activities (such as calls, texts and/or web history); silent disconnection of the phone network; de-hashing passwords (allowing visual exposure of file contents); viewing logged credentials in readable format and injection of scripts and stealing of information and credentials in web sessions.

Overall, 5G technology has a long way to go before it can be seen as having good security measures in place and better. New technology does not always mean better but it has potential to get there. It always takes time for something new to be considered stable and better than the previous due to unknown risk involved. Personally, I do not jump into the new until it is considered stable enough meaning most of the flaws are seen prior to my usage. I will continue to use LTE until time tells to help reduce my risk. I’m not saying 5G is bad but I’m just not in a hurry to use it with all its unknown issues and the fact that security standards not being fully established yet.

 

References:

https://www.ft.com/content/74edc076-ca6f-11e9-af46-b09e8bfe60c0

https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/11/13/102462/5g-has-security-flaws-that-could-let-hackers-track-your-location/

 

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