5G will be a game changer. It will increase the speed of data delivery across the globe and allow more people to get data faster than ever before. Yet with every new technology adoption, there always seems to be unintended consequences and bad actors. Continue reading to understand the 5G revolution and how you can protect yourself.
5G enters after a short history of streaming.
To plan forward, let’s think back to the 1990s. There was a time when the larger files of analog audio and video were excluded from the typical computer network. Yet soon, the pipeline got faster, and improved compression algorithms gave way to media exchange. Suddenly, we could quickly share and stream audio and video files. Though it is commonplace today, this was nothing short of a paradigm shift. Goodbye Blockbuster, hello Netflix.
However, every time the speed of the data streams significantly increases, there are positive and negative impacts on society and a period of adjustment.
Remember Napster? The file-sharing app experienced a meteoric rise, made possible by the advent of file sharing, followed by a collapse after multiple lawsuits by A&M Records, the band Metallica and rapper/producer Dr. Dre for sharing copyrighted music. Similarly, the dark web became rife with pirated audio and video files. A black market of music and movies were being shared across decentralized servers all over the globe before iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ legitimized media streaming, forever changing our consumption.
5G, the fifth-generation mobile network, will bring many opportunities. It will deliver peak data speeds more reliably and with more availability — connecting devices, objects and machines. It will also make it cost-effective to deliver high speed to rural and difficult-to-access areas.
5G will also further reduce the need for local storage. DVD sales have dropped more than 86% over the past 13 years. Why? Because why buy a DVD when you have video on demand? Contemporaneously, the music industry has lost billions of dollars (registration required) in physical music sales as music streaming services have become the norm.
How will 5G make it easier for hackers?
Hackers’ opportunities will come primarily from two areas with the onset of 5G: Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the sheer volume of increased devices on the network.
IoT is in its infancy today, but as bandwidth grows, so will the amount of IoT devices. For example, your car talking to a traffic light or parking lot camera, your refrigerator talking to Amazon, your phone talking to a bus stop. All of these devices will operate on a network, but they typically lack the protections common in devices like cell phones and laptops. These are very low-cost devices, and they often do not have robust security software installed.
Additionally, as the number of devices grows, so will the percentage of devices that are not set up properly (by using default usernames and passwords, for example). This will be low-hanging fruit for hackers. Everything becomes connected, and every device becomes a new entry point for an attacker.
How do you protect yourself in the world of 5G?
1. Keep informed. 5G will not be a slight improvement on the past. It will have a very big affect on society. Those who wish to use it for harm will have a very powerful new tool in their arsenal. Keep informed on the latest threats and learn how to protect yourself. Big-name companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Symantec and expert MSPs (managed services providers) have been planning for the impact of 5G. Lean on the experts to keep up with the best solutions.
2. Protect your phone and laptop. Use known and trusted networks and use VPN if you can’t trust the connection. Download software only from known sources. Maintain frequent updates across all software and hardware using the latest antivirus software available.
3. Know your network. Know what devices are on your network. At home, you may have Ring doorbells, nanny cams, weather instruments, smart pool equipment, etc. Know what is on your network and double-check that every device has been installed properly and securely. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable by failing to update a forgotten device on your network.
4. Understand your firewall. PCs, tablets, smartphones and IoT devices are all becoming throughputs from the data stream source and the end-user. Therefore, your point of protection will be based on what you let in and what you let out. Take your firewall very seriously and understand your level of protection.
5. Use common sense. There is a price for free. Movies and music services either have ads or a monthly subscription. Google, Facebook and others sell your search, shopping and demographic data so that you can use their services for “free.” Use common sense. No one will legally get the content of HBO without paying a price. When you see those offers, understand it is bait on a hook and someone with ill intent is hoping you will be the fish. Be vigilant and don’t be a victim.
Should you be fearful of 5G? No, just be smart by arming yourself with information and using common sense. These precautions will allow you to enjoy the vast benefits of 5G while keeping yourself protected.