The new 5G technology has been a significant advance in the way we communicate, but are there really risks in this innovative network?
The new 5G mobile technology promises to be innovative in the advancement of communication, data speed and connection; as well as the interconnection of our homes and devices in real time; it will also revolutionize many areas of life such as medicine, work, education and leisure. However; we know that every new technology attracts a series of risks that must be combated because they could be used for much less pleasant purposes; in this case we talk about the vulnerabilities that have been found in 5G technology and that could represent another side of this innovative breakthrough.
What is 5G technology?
This is the fifth generation of mobile networks that we normally know and use in our devices or Smartphones. It started from the introduction of the 1G in cell phones with which we could only receive and make calls; next came the 2G in which text messages were introduced; then the telecommunications companies took the decision to go a step further and expand the communication barrier by adding the internet connection with the 3G; following that the broadband connection was added and the speed to play videos in real time with the 4G.
Until finally the 5G will allow us to surf at 10gbs, 10 times faster than what we were used to; which gives us infinite opportunities with the use of our mobiles.
What are the benefits of 5G technology?
In addition to the speed of navigation in our cell phones, 5G technology can benefit us in different ways. Below are a series of benefits that will revolutionize the arrival of the 5G network:
- Higher latency: latency is understood as the time it takes for a network to respond or load after a link is clicked; normally this waiting time is 20 milliseconds; but with 5G technology it will be 1 millisecond, which will mean a very significant change in the network and in the response time; since we will be able to navigate in real time.
- Increase in the number of connected devices: many of the electronic devices used both in our homes and at the urban level will be able to connect to this new network; making it easier to control it from our mobile devices in real time. Whether we turn on a television, or turn on the coffee machine when we wake up; all of this could be possible with 5G technology.
- Greater coverage: another important benefit of the 5G network is the coverage of accessibility regardless of the agglomeration; people will have the usual coverage regardless of whether they are in concerts, events or any other situation where a large number of people are concentrated; the speed of navigation will be the same as the rest of its uninterrupted characteristics.
- Lower cost of devices: Normally the cost of creating and running smartphones is getting higher and higher; due to the processor capacity it must have to support each of the necessary upgrades of the new models. However, the 5G network can contribute to the decrease in costs by helping considerably to move data at a much higher speed; this reduces processing costs and in the same cost of the devices.
Are there any disadvantages?
Well, if; as every innovation has its weak points that can interfere with the effectiveness of the technology; we must recognize that these disadvantages do not mean that it is impossible to use this innovation; but rather that they are errors or failures that must be resolved as we go along. Some of these disadvantages are:
- The launch time: this is a temporary disadvantage; because the 5G network is not expected to be completely accessible until 2024 or perhaps a little longer; due to the work required to implement the functionality of greater coverage regardless of geographic space; which implies greater cost and effort in achieving this goal.
- New electronic devices will have to be acquired: due to 5G’s capacity; equipment with certain characteristics that can “support” this new technology is required; so new devices are being adapted to 5G and in time these devices that cannot support 5G will become obsolete.
- The technological gap may increase in some places: as we know; it is almost impossible for 5G networks to cover absolutely every corner of the world; so it is more likely that in the places where it cannot reach, the communication conditions will decrease; thus creating a technological imbalance in some places of the world where it is geographically complicated to extend these advances.
Vulnerabilities of 5G networks.
From the moment the launch of this mobile network was announced; there has been a great deal of concern from both users and large companies about the vulnerabilities that the 5G network may have. As we know; previous networks such as the 3 and 4G had some vulnerabilities that are not expected to be inherited by this new technology; but on the contrary, it can be solved. The European Union’s cybersecurity agency, ENISA; carried out a study entitled “ENISA THREAT LANDSCAPE FOR 5G NETWORKS”; which found a series of vulnerabilities and threats posed by this new network.
Some of the most important threats and vulnerabilities found were
- Physical attacks (PA): these are related to the action of attacking, destroying, stealing or altering the physical element that guides 5G networks; such as their structure or hardware.
- Natural disasters: this vulnerability is also associated with the destruction of hardware that can affect connectivity; with the difference that the destruction is not carried out deliberately; but as a result of a natural disaster, be it an earthquake, flood, fire, etc.
- False access network node: this is an access vulnerability in which a base station (gnB) is modified by posing as a legitimate one in order to gain access and be used illegally to execute man-in-the-middle attacks or manipulate data traffic on the network.
- Session Hacking: This is a threat in which some cyber-crooks hijack the access data of some user and use it to steal sensitive information and to attack other devices interconnected by the network in the future.
- Malicious code implementation: This is a generic threat, although for an advanced technology it is a large-scale vulnerability, especially given the number of users who will use this network and the number of people and companies that could be affected if this vulnerability is not fixed. The way in which this vulnerability occurs in the implementation of the 5G network is the use of an unauthorized or illicit VNF that could be installed and registered in an excessive manner on the central network to expose malicious APIs.
The future of telecommunications is growing and while it is a huge advantage for society and mobile communications, it is also an issue that has created controversy around the world. However, it is necessary that the creators of this network can take into account the errors and consequent threats of previous generations of mobile devices in order not to inherit them in this new generation.