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5G IoT is here. Is your company ready?

November 2023 by GlobalSign

In an increasingly connected world, it is imperative to create secure infrastructures that guarantee the integrity of the data being exchanged. And therein lies the IoT challenge. With only a few regulations, IoT territory resembles the Wild West of the 21st century. IoT is everywhere! From cars to intelligent buildings, from hospitals to manufacturing plants, because it saves considerable time in receiving, processing and protecting data. It’s also a convenience value in a busy world. With the recent rollout of 5G, the IoT landscape is starting to change. But how can IoT infrastructure benefit?

What is a 5G network and what are its benefits for IoT infrastructure?
The 5G network is the fifth generation of cellular network technology, offering better reliability, greater capacity and faster speeds than previous versions. It uses cutting-edge innovations including network slicing, multiple input and output (MIMO) and millimeter wave frequencies. Let’s take a look at the many benefits 5G can bring to your IoT infrastructure.
Firstly, 5G offers significantly faster speeds than previous generations of cellular networks. This is essential for IoT devices that need to exchange large amounts of data quickly. With 5G, IoT devices can send and receive data faster, enabling real-time decision-making and improving the overall efficiency of connected systems. By reducing latency, the time between sending a request and receiving a response is significantly reduced in 5G networks compared to previous generations. This is crucial for IoT applications that require immediate response times. For example, autonomous cars rely on low latency to make rapid decisions in real time, ensuring safe and efficient driving.

This increased capacity of 5G networks is also a key benefit for IoT infrastructures, as these networks can support a much larger number of devices simultaneously. This is particularly important for IoT infrastructures that require mass connectivity, as many devices need to be connected to the network at the same time. With 5G, more devices can be connected without compromising the speed or reliability of communications.

Another important advantage of 5G is its low energy consumption compared with previous generations of cellular networks. This is particularly beneficial for IoT devices powered by batteries or other low-power sources. With lower power consumption, IoT devices can run longer on a single charge, improving battery life and reducing maintenance requirements.
Overall, 5G offers better security for IoT devices, incorporating advanced security features such as stronger encryption and authentication protocols. These enhanced measures help protect IoT devices from cyber threats, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of data exchanged.

Is 5G a potential threat lurking in the shadows?
As with any new technology, the benefits of using 5G are considerable, but there are potential risks and dangers associated with its use in IoT infrastructures. 5G poses a threat to the security of your network, as it allows more devices to be connected and therefore has more entry points. What’s more, the more devices are connected, the more data is transmitted. If not properly protected, this data can have a major impact on the privacy of individuals and organisations.
As well as protecting your privacy and data, you’ll also need to be aware of interference from other devices. 5G networks use higher frequency bands than previous cellular networks, which can be more susceptible to interference from other devices or obstacles such as walls or buildings. This could affect the reliability and performance of IoT devices connected to the network.
For now, deploying 5G infrastructure, such as towers and antennas, can be expensive, which could limit the availability of 5G networks in some areas. This could slow down the adoption of IoT technologies that rely on 5G connectivity, but everything is evolving so fast that we can already see this technology becoming the norm in the next few years.

How do you protect your IoT network?
There are several ways to protect IoT devices using 5G networks. Here are some best practices to consider:
• Encryption: Ensure that all data transmitted between IoT devices and the 5G network is encrypted. This can help prevent unauthorised access to sensitive data.
• Authentication: Use strong authentication mechanisms to ensure that only authorised devices can access the 5G network. This prevents unauthorised devices from accessing the network and compromising the security of IoT devices.
• Secure configuration: Configure IoT devices and the 5G network with secure settings to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities being exploited. This includes setting strong passwords, disabling unnecessary services and keeping firmware and software up to date.
• Network segmentation: Segment the 5G network to separate IoT devices from other network traffic. This prevents unauthorised access to IoT devices and limits the impact of any potential security breach.
• Monitoring: Monitor the 5G network and IoT devices for signs of unauthorised access or suspicious activity. This can help detect security breaches early and enable a timely response to prevent further damage.
• Physical security: Ensure that IoT devices are physically secured to prevent tampering or theft. This includes securing devices with locks or other physical barriers, and monitoring devices for signs of physical tampering.

6G and beyond
While 5G is currently being rolled out and offers significant advances over previous generations, widespread adoption of 6G in industry is still several years away. However, 6G could bring some changes to the industrial sector.
The advent of 6G is poised to bring significant transformation to a number of industries, revolutionising the way businesses operate and opening up new opportunities. Its advanced capabilities will have a significant impact across many sectors, reshaping connectivity and enabling unprecedented advances.
In manufacturing and automation, 6G’s ultra-high-speed, low-latency capabilities will facilitate advanced automation and robotics. Real-time connectivity and precise control will enable seamless coordination between machines, resulting in intelligent manufacturing systems that optimise production, minimise downtime and improve overall efficiency.

Preparing for 5G (and 6G) IoT
In an increasingly connected world, the IoT faces security issues due to a lack of regulation. However, the deployment of 5G networks offers several advantages for IoT infrastructures. 5G offers faster speeds, reduced latency, increased capacity, reduced energy consumption and improved security. These benefits enable real-time data exchange, faster decision-making and increased efficiency across a range of industries. Despite these benefits, 5G presents potential risks, including security and privacy issues, interference, infrastructure costs and health concerns. To protect IoT networks, encryption, authentication, secure configuration, network segmentation, monitoring and physical security measures are recommended. It’s also worth bearing in mind that 6G may not be so far off the horizon, so it’s a good idea to take all possible steps to prepare for this eventuality.

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