The fifth-gen of wireless broadband technology is on the cards. Where internet service providers like Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon are pressing on to make the network service available in selected cities in 2019, 2020, and beyond while the FCC advocating for its rollout.
Cybersecurity specialists see a hothouse for a new eon of intensified cyberwar as organizations escalate towards this technology with neck breaking speed for endless potential and ripping-fast internet.
Professor of Information technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1972, Stuart Madnick stated that the ISPs and FCC are casting a double-edged sword in their rush to implement 5G.
Madnick says, “It’s like going from fireworks to dynamite sticks. 5G encourages further evolution and expansion of Internet of Things related networks. All of the good news and bad news that comes along with this technology gets magnified.”
He’s particularly concerned about the perils of denial of service attacks — or DDoS of becoming more powerful than ever before. One of the most advertised perks of 5G is that will allow even more IoT contrivances, like light bulbs or refrigerators, to come online. This would let the users dim their bedroom lights or check the contents of their refrigerators using their phones, but these devices can also be used for despicable purposes.
One of the most infamous DDoS incidents in history was the 2016 Dyn cyberattack, facilitated by indiscreet IoT devices, like baby monitors, printers, and security cameras. Hacker groups New World Hackers and Anonymous controlled thousands of electronics that still had their default passwords to accrue an army of zombie devices, called as botnets.
This network was then used to crush the servers of the internet performance management company, Dyn. Websites like Shopify, SoundCloud, Twitter, and Spotify were down for an entire day. As per Madnick, this incident can keep recurring, to an extent that hasn’t even been anticipated yet. The biggest websites can probably go down for days, including the banking websites or worse, the internet that controls public utilities like electricity.
Before adding, Madnick warned: “The worst is yet to come. The fact that 5G increases the speed means that it takes even fewer of them to overwhelm a given organization because now you can get an exponential rate of traffic directed to someone.”
Government agents and private entities too are susceptible to this scenario. When it comes to safeguarding firms and customers from the possibility of a large-scale DDoS assault, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr has a broad description of the agency’s game plan.
Carr explains, “For communications, the Department of Homeland Security is the lead federal agency on this issue and the FCC has a role to play as well. Among other things, we bring out network-based expertise and DHS brings their broader, cyber-based expertise and we work together with them on that.”
The DHS released a fact sheet just after a few weeks following the great DDoS attack of 2016 with the title, “Distributed Denial of Service Defense.” It offers a word of caution about the future as well: “It is not clear if current network infrastructure could withstand future attacks if they continue to increase in scale.”
Although 5G will facilitate more devices to go online, we cannot turn a blind eye to the
potential security threats that it brings along.
However, the threats won’t dissuade the rolling-out of 5G technology.
Madnick further adds, “Whenever there is a technological or organizational change we enter a new danger zone because basically. We don’t have the experience to know what we’ve unleashed. 5G will bring about good things, but there will be lots of things we will only learn about as time goes on.”