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Cyber-predictions for 2020: How 5G will affect the Internet of Things?

Bartosz Urban | February 7, 2020

We tend to forget how strongly our personal habits can influence businesses and their operations when it comes to cybersecurity. In 2020, which researchers believe is “the year of IoT”, every technological trend will have the power to strongly sway the market one way or the other, since adoption of any new technology will inevitably place itself front and center in the grand scheme of things – it’s cliché to say that everything is connected, but in the Internet of Things, everything actually IS connected, and every influx of new devices into the world will shape how IoT works.

5G is by no means a new thing, but its widespread adoption is just starting – more service providers in more countries are becoming 5G ready, and global leaders in technology are either preparing their flagship devices to use 5G connectivity, like Apple, or are already selling millions of them, like Samsung. This sudden growth in demand for 5G devices comes from a market desperately waiting for innovation, but also for increased connectivity and speed – people consume content that’s larger and more data-hungry than ever, and we are doing it in increasing numbers, which means the technology needs to evolve and allow for wider and easier use of resources in the IoT.

The change goes beyond just personal devices – 5G for the most part is still confined to large cities, since its technology requires an extensive mesh network of transmitters. The widespread usage of 5G in urban environment can give way to the evolution of smart, always-connected cities, with remote-controlled bits and pieces of its operations, much like in connected buildings or campuses, but on a city-wide scale. A game-changer, no doubt, but not without its challenges – if cities become increasingly connected with a tight mesh network that 5G requires, access to what’s behind the scenes can be snatched by malicious actor with a bigger ease.

The aforementioned changes, with both their pros and cons, still mean that the market for 5G infrastructure technology is expected to reach $4.2 billion and two-thirds of companies intend to deploy 5G in 2020, according to Gartner. 5G technologies allow businesses to replace existing networks with a lower latency, higher bandwidth alternative, letting them connect more types of devices and enhanced capabilities around technologies like AI, edge computing and automation. This presents a significant opportunity for companies to mature their technology posture.

As adoption spreads, so do potential security threats from these devices. Companies will reach a critical mass of these devices in 2020, forcing them to reevaluate their risk paradigm for connected devices. Further complicating that paradigm is the fact that devices leveraging 5G could potentially bypass some traditional cybersecurity technologies by connecting directly to cellular networks. It’s unclear if this changing risk paradigm will result in an attack or breach in 2020 due to the newness of the technology, but regardless, companies will have to consider changing their security strategies or leave a growing group of devices without adequate protection.

Developing a new cybersecurity plan for your business is no small feat and requires taking many factors into consideration. You can read our tips on how to future-proof your operations or look into more of our 2020 cyber-predictions to stay in the know and be able to make more informed decisions.