“The reality is that 5G isn’t here,” states Bill Conner, President and CEO of Sonicwall. Speaking at the 2019 Independent Show, Conner suggests there is a great deal of marketing hype around 5G, while questions remain about spectrum, standards, and devices. He says if there is a race, “Let’s race for a safe, secure [5G] future.” Conner implores industry, policymakers, and regulators to use this window of uncertainty as an opportunity to focus on ensuring the fundamental security of the 5G ecosystem.
The 5G network is really one of networked devices (i.e., IoT) and that the telephony portion of becomes a subset (e.g. the telephone is just another IoT device). As such, he calls for government agencies and industry to develop a security framework for 5G that is free from hype.
This Brookings Institute whitepaper, from former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and Rear Admiral David Simpson, USN (Ret.) who was chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, also argues that security must be part of the design of the 5G network. It points out that with 5G largely being a software-defined, decentralized network, it is more open compared to the hardware-based, more centralized networks of the past.
It suggests that market forces alone are not sufficient to ensure secure networks, as security isn’t a priority of the end-consumers (they do make an interesting suggestion of creating a sort of UL label for cybersecurity effectiveness, so consumers could judge whether the equipment they are installing is cybersecure).
The authors recommend two key steps for ensuring a secure 5G future, summarized below:
#1: Companies must recognize and be held responsible for a new cyber duty of care
Key #2: Government must establish a new cyber regulatory paradigm to reflect the new realities
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