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Hackernoon logoWhy 5G Security Will Suffer From 4G Vulnerabilities by@jaipaul

Why 5G Security Will Suffer From 4G Vulnerabilities

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@jaipaulJai Paul

The fifth generation of mobile communication networks isn’t on its way; it's already here. You’ve probably heard plenty about 5G in the past few years, as this promising new generation of wireless technology is what’s enabling the continued spread of the internet of things and a host of other digital innovations. Virtually all tech experts agree that 5G technology is a good thing, given that it will lead to faster connectivity and more secure networks. However, there are good reasons to believe that the staggered deployment of 5G technology will mean that it remains vulnerable to a number of security woes currently plaguing 4G technology. 

Here’s why 5G security will suffer from some 4G security vulnerabilities. 

5G Must Connect with Legacy Networks

The key reason that 5G security will continue to suffer from 4G security issues is that an entirely 5G network can’t be rolled out all at once.

The digital communications network that modern society depends upon is truly massive and very complex. Therefore, it must be upgraded and replaced using a piecemeal approach rather than all at once. This means that 5G technology must connect to legacy networks (4G networks, for the most part) that will leave it vulnerable to some old school security threats.

This isn’t the end of the world, as there’s no way to truly eliminate all security vulnerabilities in the world of digital technologies. However, this poses some unique security challenges that tech gurus have to be aware of. 

Fortune’s analysis is probably the most reliable in this regard. While 5G technology could increase the security of our mobile networks, it will also deliver some security hurdles that will render some aspects of our network more vulnerable than we’d otherwise expect.

The good guys trying to protect our fragile communications network and nefarious hackers alike will both find that 5G technology helps them achieve their goals. Places where 5G networks are only partially implemented and have to exist side-by-side with old 4G networks for extended periods of time are especially at risk.

Why 5G Will be Widely Embraced

The continued deployment of 5G technology is quite like online slots, in that we can win big or suffer from serious losses depending on a wide variety of things. However, 5G will be widely embraced despite these security concerns for two reasons:

  1. 5G technology is different from but superior to its 4G predecessor
  2. No digital innovation is entirely free of security concerns 

It’s worth exploring the specific security vulnerabilities that 5G networks will have to face in the near future, as they’re forced to interoperate with the legacy networks of yesterday. 

We’ll still have to deal with fraud, spoofing, and DDoS attacks.

4G and 5G Security Issues

A number of problems continue to make 4G networks rife with security issues that hackers can exploit. Distributed denial of service attacks, usually just labeled DDoS attacks, were on the rise between 2018 and 2019. While the continued spread of COVID-19 makes it difficult to collect accurate data from the period between 2019 and 2020, we can likely assume DDoS attacks continued to rise during that period too.

Given that 5G technology will be forced to interoperate with 4G technology from the past, it will likely still have to face DDoS attacks from those who seek to clog up our networks with huge sums of digital traffic. 

The fact that 5G networks will also depend upon GPRS tunneling protocols also means that they’ll be vulnerable to some security flaws that will roll over from the 4G era. As a matter of fact, GPRS tunneling protocol has been an important part of connectivity since we upgraded from 2G networks to 3G networks.

According to one recent report, vulnerabilities that GPRS tunneling protocol users will run into will also plague the 5G networks of tomorrow, something tech experts are going to have to grapple with as we upgrade our contemporary communications network. Given that GPRS tunneling protocols don’t have to validate the location of users who connect to a network, and given that 5G networks will rely on these protocols, it will thus be possible for spoofing to occur.

Spoofing, or misidentifying yourself as another person connecting from a different location than where you actually are, continues to be a major threat in the world of contemporary IT security.

Final Thoughts

We can thus see that 5G networks of tomorrow will still be riddled with a number of security issues already frustrating tech experts. However, none of this is to say that upgrading to 5G won’t also deliver certain security and performance improvements. 

5G technology is becoming our reality as we speak, and it won’t be long before the next generation of wireless communication networks comes along to change everything we know about tech. Until then, however, 5G networks will be forced to grapple with some 4G security vulnerabilities that have plagued us for years. 


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