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IMC 2020

Hyperconnected World of 5G  – Establishing Digital Trust

The last two decades has seen significant changes in network and data connectivity with 5G enabling to have a hyperconnected world by making “people to things” and “things to things” communication a reality with high bandwidth, low latency (real time) in high connection density.

5G is set to create a new set of opportunities across industries and sectors, introducing disruptive solutions, such as supply chain unification, smart manufacturing, connected ecosystem, real time high precision remote working etc. by bringing the network and technology closer to the end users to meet low latency service requirements. 5G also provides a unique opportunity to convert imagination to reality across industry sectors. This needs to be established on an extremely strong foundation of “Digital Trust” which will instill confidence in secure adoption.

Clearly there is significant value which 5G is going to offer, however it’s equally critical to recognize that there is a need to establish a trusted environment to increase the uptake of the services in a secured and controlled environment. Increased awareness across the key stakeholders has significantly increased the focus on establishing Digital Trust, which extends way beyond security and privacy, covering areas such as transparency and openness.

The world has realized the importance of taking a proactive approach (“Security by Design” and “Privacy by Design”) and other relevant security standards. To make it a secure and trusted environment, it will be essential to extend the security and data privacy measures across the use cases that are being considered on a large scale. When it comes to use cases not being secured well, some could  pose multiple challenges in terms of implementation, operations, security and data privacy requirements. Looking at security and privacy threats like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on 5G enabled Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems, unauthorized access to remote sensors used in the manufacturing industry, remote access by illegitimate users to sensitive machines, interception of confidential health data or breach to connected cars and gaining access to personal information like driving patterns; all these instances signify the importance of security and privacy for various services ecosystem which if ignored, could have severe implications.

Digital Trust
Due to a shift in the service landscape with 5G, there are divergent security and privacy concerns which could have a huge impact on consumer data and the type of services delivered. The 5G network is of a heterogeneous nature due to involvement of multiple technologies like

  • Next generation core and RAN,
  • Multi access Edge Computing (MEC),
  • Software defined networks (SDN),
  • Network Function Virtualization (NFV),
  • Cloudification etc.

Many of these technologies have been significantly enhanced from the previous generation of telecom network (4G) and addressing the needs by introducing effective usage of virtualization technologies. These technologies would individually pose security and privacy threats (like DDoS attacks on RAN and IoT devices, compromised shared resources, eavesdropping and Man In The Middle (MITM) attacks at edge devices compromising open vulnerabilities on edge computing devices, inter slicing attacks, etc.) Further data which is processed across these technologies will require stringent measures to address the data privacy & integrity issues such as shared network resources, lack of data ownership among stakeholders like third party and cloud service providers, data breach and unauthorized access to data etc.

While there is a lot more focus and progress on security standards, the key will be to have an ecosystem which imparts “Digital Trust” and inspires secure adoption of the technology.

Establishing Digital Trust will go beyond the security and privacy controls, including:

  • Support in accelerated adoption of international standards
  • Stronger cooperation across the community to address security and privacy challenges
  • Need to have cohesive secure view across the value chain (comprising of upstream and downstream)
  • Establish a secure ecosystem that enables trust and confidence in the services delivered using 5G.

Way Forward:
The future presents unlimited potential for creativity with 5G and associated technologies. The success of adoption and deployment of the technology will depend on ability to establish a trusted and secured environment, which will instill trust and confidence in adoption.

The role of the ecosystem in the journey will be extremely critical, since there will be no single entity which will be able to establish an end to end secure environment. Having collaboration across the value chain along with enhancing  existing global standards with a proactive approach will be fundamental in establishing “Digital Trust” and fostering “Secure Adoption”.

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