Mobile service providers think the future of 5G networks will drive revenue opportunities and new use cases driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) — however, security must be improved for 5G to fulfill its potential.
Sixty-seven percent of mobile providers will deploy their first commercial 5G networks within 18 months, another 21% within the next two years. Most (94%) expect increases in network traffic growth, connected devices, and mission-critical IoT use cases to drive security and reliability concerns. A majority (79%) say 5G is a factor in current security investments.
The insights come from "Securing the Future of a Smart World," a new report based on a survey conducted by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network and commissioned by A10 Networks. As a whole, mobile providers recognize new applications (such as self-driving cars, smart cities, and remote patient observation) will heighten the need for safe and secure network connections.
"When we look at what happened when 4G networks came in, there was a lot of disruption to the industry," says Paul Nicholson, director of product marketing for A10, who anticipates the rise of 5G networks will cause greater disruption than 4G networks did in the past. "Security issues normally come when there's a disruption in the technology," he explains.
Researchers found the top drivers for 5G include smart cities (60%), industrial automation and smart manufacturing (48%), high-speed connectivity (39%), fixed wireless (37%), and connected vehicles (35%). As 5G continues to grow, so too will use cases and devices relying on it, he adds. A connected car, for example, has to be reliable in a split second — there's little room for error.
While mobile providers think 5G networks will drive opportunity, it will also increase risk. 5G will bring more traffic and connected devices, many of which will be mission-critical. Network security is very important (72%) or important (26%) to most respondents asked about 5G.
Sixty-three percent view advanced distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection as the most important security tool built into 5G. Nearly 80% have or will upgrade to Gi/SGi firewalls; 73% have or will upgrade to a GTP firewall. Progress is slow going: Only 11% have upgraded their Gi firewalls and 13% have upgraded GTP firewalls, resulting from the complexity of control and management planes in 5G.
"Service providers are keenly aware of the DDoS attack problem," says Nicholson. More data will be transferred at a greater volume as 5G networks become larger and more essential to individuals and businesses, making providers concerned about the opportunities for attacks, he explains.
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