What are the Cybersecurity Implications of 5G?

The widespread distribution of 5G networks is a gamer changer indeed in the world of the internet. It offers so much more than just a reliable and faster communication network. A lightning-fast network empowers, enriches our lives, and encourages greater productivity. For millions of people around the world who do not have access to broadband internet, this technology brings an option for greater connectivity. Even though the majority of Americans living in urban areas may not understand the struggles but the rural population might have an idea of what it is like to be limited to only so much you can do with your internet service.

If you live in an urban locale and are looking for an internet service provider that offers lightning fast internet and reliable service, you may want to check out Spectrum. Spectrum offers affordable rates for high-speed internet and an amazing customer service team. Even though the provider covers around 44 states there is a possibility your location is not currently serviceable so it is important to check. However, if you live in a rural area and do not have access to any broadband provider then you would be better off checking for 5G coverage.

Even though many are excited about this new advancement in technology there are several who are also pointing out the red flags. There have been speculations about the health and cybersecurity risks associated with this new technology. Experts are worried that just like 5G can enrich and empower humans to create better lives, it can empower hackers to conduct their malicious activities in ways never thought possible and wreak havoc in the global cyber world.

What Exactly is 5G?

Let us first clear out what the “G” stands for. It means generation as in the next generation in technology. Therefore, 5G is the next generation in mobile communication technology after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. As the generations advanced so did the speed at which data could be transmitted. However, 5G technology does not only offer improved speed. It also offers intelligent power consumption, low latency, high device density as well as network slicing. These make it a breakthrough in wireless mobile communications.

How does it Work?

Just like other mobile networks, 5G networks also use a network of cell sites. These cell sites send encoded data over radio waves to be transmitted to our cellphones. However, the 5G technology uses smaller cell transmitter than the ones used for 4G, which cover less area but also use less power. Also, due to their small size, less power consumption, and greater number required, they could be placed anywhere on the streets and in the buildings.

How Fast is It?

Depending on the application under consideration, 5G can be anywhere from 10 times to 1000 times faster than 4G. So much so that this can make widespread use of self-driving cars possible. It is predicted that by 2025 the use of internet-connected devices would have increased by 3 times due to 5G internet. We may be linking and remotely controlling medical devices, robots, industrial equipment, and even agricultural equipment.

What are the Cybersecurity Risks?

A connected world is a beautiful thought but also will bring about more cyber-attacks. Even before 5G, we have had hackers breaching the network security of companies and individuals. Malicious cybercrime tools like ransomware, crypto-jacking, malware, data breaches, identity theft have become so common that people these days are more afraid of cybercrimes than they are of physical crimes.

It is thought that 5G networks may worsen the intensity of threats we currently face and may even introduce new ones. Below are a few ways that 5G networks increase the vulnerability to cyberattacks.

  1. The network does not use centralized hardware-based switching. Instead, it uses distributed software-defined routing. Therefore, there is a lack of any hardware choke points in case of a cyberattack.
  2. It has increased reliance on standardized building block protocols due to the removal of physical appliances to perform higher-level network functions. Since all network functions are performed virtually it increase the cybersecurity risk of the network.
  3. Software that in turn is managed by artificial intelligence that is not advanced enough manages the network itself. Therefore, even if you were able to lock the software shortcomings inside the network, an expert hacker can gain access to the software controlling the network, thus gaining control of the network.
  4. The small cell antennas that have been planted all over the cities to expand bandwidth have also become targets for attackers. We may be receiving lightning-fast speed but it also means that we have provided additional avenues for attackers to target.
  5. 5G network can connect billions of smart devices to the internet, from transportation to medical devices, weapons to safety equipment, anything and everything these days can be connected to the Internet of Things. Thus making everything all the more vulnerable.
  6. A faster network also means that a virus or malware will travel faster on it than ever before causing a lot of damage before being detected and stopped. Moreover, more devices connected to the network would mean that there would be a larger number of devices affected by an attack at a time than before.
  7. Another potential risk that could come into existence due to 5G technology is botnet attacks. Currently, the networks are not fast enough for these attacks to be conducted seamlessly. However, the blazing-fast 5G network would be perfect for spreading botnet attacks in the future.


The era of 5G is indeed an exciting one because it has the potential of bringing about so many great things. However, we must tread carefully into this terrain as it requires us to be particularly aware of the cybersecurity requirements of the new age.

The cybersecurity protocols and defenses need to be improved and put in place ASAP to avoid risks. Cybersecurity professionals need to work to identify and understand the risks we face due to this technology and devise solutions accordingly.