The Security Risks Of Using 5G To Drive Smart Cities And IoT

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Cellular carriers are racing at breakneck speed to implement 5G because it will unlock trillions of dollars in new data while driving smart cities and enabling the Internet of Things. Security is an afterthought, but experts note that the potential for breaches will expand exponentially. The failure of massive IoT systems could throw society into chaos.  ⁃ TN Editor

When the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim stood up in front of the Mobile World Congress earlier this year in Barcelona, he spoke of the power of the Internet of Things and how big data can be used for a social good.

While he was emphasising the potential of increased connectivity to alleviate poverty, Yong Kim was also drawing attention to 5G technology being the engine that will drive the fourth industrial revolution.

Speaking with Fairfax Media in March, the Global Head of Samsung’s Mobile business, DJ Koh, also spoke about the potential of 5G and how it will deliver unimagined experiences. He likened 4G to a bicycle and 5G to a motorbike giving us extraordinary connectivity.

Global business development firm, Frost and Sullivan also speak of the benefits of 5G and how it will drive the internet of things technology in “smart cities, smart infrastructure, and enhanced connected living concepts”.

Yet Frost and Sullivan also warn that as more devices become networked, the potential for security breaches expands exponentially.

In their research they warn cybersecurity attacks cannot only cause operational disruptions, breached or malfunctioning devices can also be commandeered to launch cybersecurity attacks on other devices and systems to pose significant risks to consumers, businesses and societies.

As DJ Koh says “data security is number one” and it was discussed extensively at the recent Smart Cities roundtable co-hosted by The Australian Financial Reviewand Australian Computer Society (ACS).

Speaking at the roundtable, smart cities consultant and founder of Creator Tech Geof Heydon said if we are complacent around the security piece, “we could have a potential disaster”.

“Everything we aspire to from the technology side of things when it comes to enabling citizens, could actually fall down at the blink of an eye if we’re not prepared,” Heydon says.

We are already seeing the potential pitfalls of massive security breaches and blatant misuse of data. A recent study by the University of Surrey in the UK titled Into the Web of Profit (Understanding the Growth of the Cybercrime Economy) suggests cybercrime is worth over $1.5 trillion a year – making it the world’s 13th largest economy.

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