5G Network Blue Background

There are many occasions that we see and hear the term 5G. 5G is a mobile communication system with significantly improved performance over 4G. In the U.S. The first 5G was released in 2019 and many network providers are scheduling their rollout and nationwide coverage during 2020.

In this article, we will overview the details of 5G, the difference from 4G, advantages, disadvantages, and key security countermeasures that we should be aware of the 5G era.

What is 5G

5G is the fifth-generation mobile communication system. The first service was released in 2019 and nationwide coverage is planned during 2020 by many mobile network providers.

There are 3 major features of 5G worth mentioning, Ultra High-Speed, Ultra-High Number of Simultaneous Connections, and Ultra-Low Latency.

With ultra-high speed network protocol a high-resolution video transmission such as 4K and 8K becomes fluent. Also being able to simultaneously connect large number devices will enhance the revolution of IoT society. Ultra-low latency will help improve accuracy in automated driving and remote treatment technology fields.

Difference from 4G

4G is the 4th generation mobile communication system, also known as LTE and LTE-Advanced which is the current mainstream in our society. By changing from 4G to 5G, the following aspects will change.

4G 5G
Communication Speed 1Gbps max 20Gbps max
Number of Simultaneous Connections 40,000 units per sq mile 400,000 units per sq mile
Communication Latency 10ms 1ms

Compare to the 4G, 5G communication speed is 20 times faster and the number of simultaneous connections is 10 times the amount, while latency reduces to 1/10. In simple terms. Upgrade from 4G to 5G is overall expected to be 10 times more effective fundamentally.

For example, downloading data that takes 30 seconds on 4G can be completed in 5 seconds using 5G. Also, a significant reduction in latency will improve real-time operations performed via the Internet in many fields. Especially contributes toward near-future technologies such as telehealth remote treatment and an automated driving system where reliability is extremely important.

Advantages of Switching to 5G

Let's look into the main benefits brought by switching from 4G to 5G.

Comfortable Network Communication

The 5G network communication speed becomes 20 times faster compare to 4G. On the Internet, an increasing number of people are using video sharing websites such as YouTube while video distribution services like Netflix and Hulu are becoming popular. Improving network communication speed allows us to view 4K and 8K high-quality videos comfortably through a much efficient system.

Improvement is not only limited to video but also on the foundation of Internet usage. People will start seeing noticeable speed change while website browsing, mobile application, and online gaming.

Reduction in Communication Cost

The increase in communication capacity allows us to apply new countermeasure strategies toward resolving traffic latency issues and known network failures. Also, because 5G allows 10 times larger simultaneous connections compare to 4G, the increasing number of connected devices will lead to reducing installation costs for relay network towers and devices.

Enhancement in IoT Promotion

Popularity in IoT devices has been increasing over the years. With this trending momentum of IoT, the number of devices connecting to the Internet is expected dramatic increase in the near future. During the 4G era, some issues could not be handled due to a lack of resources. However, the expansion of simultaneous connections and network capacity introduced by 5G will be a promising solution to many existing problems.

IoT technology is applied in a variety of fields including web camera operation, temperature and humidity management, and home appliance controls. Data collected over architectural greenhouses, factories, hospitals, schools, stores, constructions, and many other environments will become remotely manageable to benefit research and costs.

Reliability Improvement by Latency Reduction

Although our modern network speed is quite fast, we still occasionally experience delays. By adopting the 5G network the latency will be reduced to 1ms allowing real-time operation throughout the globe.

Latency issues become a critical problem in fields of remote surgery and automated drive technologies, especially because any operation glitches can potentially threaten people's life. To provide reliability in technology service, network latency optimization becomes critical in any circumstance.

Disadvantages of Switching to 5G

The technology world will become much convenient with the transition from 4G to 5G. On the other hand, convenient technology often brings new security risks. Here are the main disadvantages introduced by changing to 5G from a security standpoint.

Increases Cyber-attack Targets

With 5G, many more devices will be able to connect to the network at the same time. Especially with the up growing popularity in IoT devices, the number of devices connected to the network will significantly increase. Simply put, by having more devices connected to the network, the more targets will be available for cyber-attackers. Cyber-attack incidents in IoT fields has been constantly growing over the years.

According to the 2019 research conducted by SonicWall, cyber-attacks against IoT have increased 217.5 percent over the year. The majority of IoT attacks targets personal web camera and home routers where security awareness is lower. As the number of IoT will keep increasing, we should be aware that IoT victims will equally grow over the next few years.

More Stolen Data with More Available Traffic

High-capacity and high-speed network equivalents to increase in available network traffic. With higher network traffic, there will be more possible targets to steal data from. Combining this with IoT, various information will be flow through the Internet and publicly available without proper security measures.

For example, by correlating web cameras' images, locational data, and devices mesh information, it becomes possible to track individual activities and spy their identity. Kaspersky announced that their honeypot detected 105 million attacks against IoT within just the first half of 2019. The increase of data amount that hackers can gain within a period is one of the risks we must concern by moving to 5G.

Impact Toward IoT

IoT stands for the Internet of Things enabling everything to be connected to the Internet. By connecting the things that were not connected before to the internet, our lifestyles and work foundations can become more convenient. 5G is a communication system that can highly contribute to the potential of significant change toward social infrastructure.

Security Flaws in 5G Network Communication Standards

According to the 5G network research conducted in the U.S., 5G network communication standard inherits known security policies and subprotocol problems from 4G. Security experts say that these problems can cause phone call interception and locational information tracking when using 5G.

These security risks have been discussed theoretically, yet we should keep our awareness of the dangers introduced by using 5G. Although security measures in network communication standards are constantly improving, we must keep considering the underlying danger to prepare ourselves.

Summary

5G is a network communication system that allows Ultra-High Speed, Ultra-High Number of Simultaneous Connections, and Ultra-Low Latency. These characteristics bring the potential to renovate the social infrastructure and enrich our livings.

However, technology innovation can also cause an increase in security risks. As 5G is expected to grow the popularity of general IoT usage, more and more information will become exchangeable over the Internet. To accommodate such a near future system, strong security measures will be required to maintain safety.

Convenience and security are two sides of the same coin. We must always be aware of the security aspect as we develop our technology.