5G calls for tighter security

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The improved connectivity that 5G will bring in the next few years, will come with greater security threats, and organisations will need to work harder to defend themselves against cybercriminals as they look for weaknesses in the digital infrastructure.

Experts at the UAE 5G Conference also predicted a marked increase in cybersecurity spending as the age of 5G progresses, and several new applications using the technology come online across various sectors.

"We know that location data will become much more accurate once 5G becomes the norm," said Fraser Graham, senior director for Policy Engagement at GSMA. "In addition, there will be an explosion of new applications that will generate lots of data about users and their digital habits. This is highly personalised data about behaviour patterns that organisations will be able need to understand their users. Already, there have been concerns about just how much data organisations should have access to. We expect that there will be new ideas about how to collect more personal data in the 5G era."

Graham noted that concerns about the security of personalised data will lead to an increase on data security spending.

Similarly, Jane Rygaard, head of Dedicated Wireless Networks at Nokia, noted that data will be a powerful currency, especially as sectors such as shipping ports and airports begin to utilise the full power of 5G.

Her thoughts echoed those of Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, director general of the TRA - UAE, who said that the UAE is now one of 14 countries that have introduced 5G applications in their communications system.

"Our journey with 5G started after the WRC-15, with the aim of facilitating and accelerating the introduction of 5G to the country. We have learned from our wise leadership to race against time in our preparations for the future, in line with the UAE vision 2021, which provides for the creation of a competitive knowledge economy based on innovation. We are proud that 5G at this moment covers about 30 per cent of the populated areas in the UAE. In Abu Dhabi, coverage increased to 60 per cent. In some areas, the coverage reached 100 per cent, as in the case of Expo 2020, Global Village, and the Formula One," he said.

A report by AT&T Cybersecurity noted that while 72.5 per cent of security professionals worldwide rated their level of concern for the 5G's impact on security as high or medium-high, only 22 per cent said they believed their current policies are ready for 5G. Over 76 per cent of respondents said that they expected completely new security threats to surface from the 5G world, the report found. In addition, nearly all respondents expect to make 5G-related security changes within the next five years, with 35 per cent saying that they will start in the next one to two years. Regardless of timeline, 78 per cent of security professionals said that their policies would need to be changed because of 5G. The top three 5G-related concerns are greater risk of attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) networks, a wider attack surface, and a lack of security by design in 5G hardware and firmware.

The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Huawei also announced the launch of the '5G and IoT Joint OpenLab' at the UAE 5G conference on Monday.

The joint initiative is aimed at boosting 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) services throughout the UAE, promoting innovation and collaboration across markets with the intention of creating an open ecosystem that will further ICT development. The TRA and Huawei 5G and IoT Joint OpenLab will mainly focus on the enterprise market, including Artificial Intelligence solutions, fixed wireless access, CCTV, campus private line, and more. Consumer services such as cloud gaming/VR will also be a focus of the OpenLab.

"We welcome this TRA-Huawei joint initiative, as part of the authority's openness to partner with the private sector based on the fact that the burdens of the new digital age are greater than a single sector; therefore, all sectors must work together to develop the digital community. We will spare no effort to mobilise all energies and work hand in hand with the government, academic and private companies to serve the community, spread awareness, build competencies, establish joint projects and implement future plans," Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori said.

Wang Su, VP of Huawei Middle East Marketing, said: "5G and IoT OpenLab will be an important innovative cross-industry platform for operators, third parties and vertical industries in the UAE. It will help all those accessing the latest 5G and IoT technology, understanding application scenarios, developing innovative services and aggregating the 5G & IoT ecosystem for the local market. Through the OpenLab platform, Huawei will work with customers and partners around the world to develop the best possible industry-specific solutions, enrich local ICT industry ecosystems, address challenges and future demands in line with the requirements of local markets, and keep driving customers to go digital."

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Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Al Khaleej Today. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in , feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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