5G Networks Pose New Cyber Risks: What Steps Can Organizations Take To Lower The Threat?

There are a number of new cyberattacks that organizations need to watch out for in 2020.

First, cybercriminals are increasingly targeting data stored in the cloud, particularly cloud applications. These cyberattacks will use memory scraping to access data that has been decrypted for use by cloud applications.

Second, cyberattacks carried out by nation-state hackers are on the rise—for example, the WannaCry attack, which has been attributed to North Korea. According to Microsoft, 8,000 of its customers have been attacked by nation-state hackers in the past year. The risk with nation-state attacks is that they have nearly unlimited resources to create advanced malware toolkits that will then trickle down to other cybercriminals.

Swarm technology, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to attack networks and devices, has become a major threat over the past year. Cybercriminals can use bot swarms to "infiltrate a network, overwhelm internal defenses, and efficiently find and extract data."

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation could actually make DDoS attacks more successful. A study conducted by Link11 found that DDoS attacks have tripled in the past year. Advanced malware and attacks on critical infrastructure are also on the rise.

Finally, experts anticipate that cybercriminals will weaponize 5G and edge computing in order to attack individual devices to spread malware to other devices, and then use groups of compromised devices to "target victims at 5G speeds." Aaron Hurst "What are the newest cyber attacks to look out for?" information-age.com (Feb. 11, 2020).

Commentary

The Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization, recently published a report outlining why 5G requires organizations to adopt new cybersecurity practices.

5G networks are more vulnerable to cybercrime because they use distributed, software-defined digital routing, meaning there is no opportunity to inspect and control traffic at a checkpoint. The entire network is software-based, rather than hardware-based, making it more vulnerable to software attacks. The growth of IoT devices also makes 5G networks more vulnerable.

To prepare for 5G vulnerabilities, organizations should conduct a cybersecurity assessment that includes the five areas recommended by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework

To address the greater cyber risks associated with 5G, it is essential that all organizations, even smaller ones, thoroughly train their employees on cybersecurity best practices. Organizations must implement software protections to fight against software attacks at all levels of the supply chain. Take measures to shift from lag indicators of cyber-preparedness post-attack to leading indicators.

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