Latest insights from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Barometer show that 41% of execs think 5G is now less important than it was before the pandemic. There are numerous reasons why this could be the case, one being that 4G and home broadband has been proven to be up to the job of supporting home working. 

There’s also no escaping the headlines that surround 5G and political espionage. They read like a script from House of Cards. Presidents, prime ministers, heads of foreign intelligence services and global corporate leaders, providing the colorful characters that are essential in any good political drama. It could well have made some organizations rethink their plans for adopting 5G enabled technologies and wait until there can be more assurances on security.

New technologies 

The latest edict by the UK government is a pretty clear statement. It has promoted many industry insiders to say that it will take years to exchange kit, possibly even a decade for some operators, as they take on the heavy lifting of removing core network components and finding alternative suppliers. The financial impact is huge: operators will have to find additional budget to purchase the kit, conduct validation and integration testing, overhaul their service wrap around offers and factor in the time and cost of retraining employees on new technology. 

Achieve new ambitions related to driverless cars

Despite all this, many carriers have made very public statements that they will progress with 5G as planned, some are even accelerating plans. The insight available to them confirms that there is still a good proportion of businesses and pubic bodies that see its value. It’s a way to propel smart city development and connectivity, and to achieve new ambitions related to driverless cars, and highly automated manufacturing for example. 5G therefore remains a rolling stone and regardless of the core network kit, security needs to be designed in, not bolted on, at every step of network and application design and build.

New rules for working

The pandemic has shaken up how we live and work. It has brought home the necessity for ultra-fast, affordable and agile communications everywhere. It’s also proved a fertile hunting ground for scammers keen to exploit the public’s thirst for up to the minute news. Click bait has been rife and it still forms one of the most effective ways to distribute malware and ransomware.

Unprotected VPNs have added to the risks, as companies scrambled to roll out remote access at mass scale. It overburdened their security infrastructure and created vulnerabilities all in the name of getting home working ramped up quickly. Some companies have learnt the hard way that maintaining patches on software and keeping on top of the security education their employees receive is vital to protect operations from attack.

Rural vs urban working

The move to home working has also brought to light discrepancies in speed and access to communications, reigniting the rural versus city investment debate.

We’ve seen some companies say that employees can now work anywhere, and others downsize their office footprints. This is opening the door for people to swap city living and commutes for more rural locations.

5G roll out plans typically focus on large cities and towns, but is this still the right strategy? I’d suggest that operators need to step back and look at the larger global trends and update their plans.

Connected cows and beyond

For example, farming and the environment has to be a planning priority now. To meet the needs of a predicted 9 billion people in 2050, farming supply will need to increase by 50%. COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus how precarious the global food supply chain is. In addition, this increase needs to be met with technology to make agriculture more efficient in order to preserve the world’s natural resources while meeting these goals.

COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus how precarious the global food supply chain is

The vision of the ‘connected cows’ is mooted as a way to solve global food security. As such, farming and the environment are set to gain greatly from technologies and applications enabled by 5G Internet of Things (IoT). But the benefits will only be realised if the connectivity and security is in place.

The vast network of IoT sensors that will be used to improve farming inefficiencies, increase welfare standards and reporting, as well as efficiently manage food manufacturing will generate an abundance of data.

Highly sensitive data

This data will range from highly sensitive sets related to pricing and employees, critical data related to yield management and compliance, to more transactional weather and water sensor data. Ensuring continuity will be essential to not just farming productivity and meeting standards, but also protecting IP or personal information throughout the supply chain and preventing a cyberwar intended to starve people.

Corporate espionage is a very real threat to manufacturing at the moment, and as farming becomes more connected, it’s expected this threat will extend as far as the farmyard. Not only that, protests against government handling of policies related to food poverty or overproduction could be done using ‘hacktivism’. It’s easy to buy a hack these days and start an online attack to make your point. So, as farming adopts technology models we usually see in the corporate world of pharma and finance, it too may become a target.

Healthcare goes truly national

The much talked of vision for the virtual GP accelerated in the pandemic, helping people see a GP without leaving the house.

Governments have had a very real glimpse into the importance of connected healthcare in terms of saving money and time. There is now a greater likelihood that nursing teams will be given mobile devices that can access and update patient records in real-time, GPs will scale down consultation space in favour of online appointments, and prescriptions will be automatically filled and delivered at the click of a button. Comprehensive 5G networks can help make more of this happen particularly in remote areas where health care is scarce, of that there is no doubt, and this is before we get into the exciting prospect of remote brain surgery that 5G can facilitate.

The pandemic also exposed the precarious nature of online healthcare

But the pandemic also exposed the precarious nature of online healthcare. Patient data remains a sitting duck, as illustrated perfectly by breaches we saw across the world both in public and private delivery. At its very worst, nation state attacks pose a significant threat to public health and it’s essential there is local and global collaboration to ensure data is protected.

This threat won’t wane. In fact, it is increasing as we drive more innovation and connectivity. Security experts have their work cut out. But it’s not impossible to achieve secure networks and applications, so long as we don’t put profit before people.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Michael O'Malley Vice President of Marketing, Radware

In case you missed it

What Are New Trends In Residential Security?
What Are New Trends In Residential Security?

Residential security and smart homes are rapidly changing facets of the larger physical security marketplace, driven by advances in consumer technology and concerns about rising crime rates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people spent more time at home and became more aware of the need for greater security. As workplaces opened back up, returning workers turned to technology to help them keep watch over their homes from afar. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the trends in residential security in 2021?

How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work
How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work

Ensuring employee health and safety remains a key priority for organizations this year, especially as we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different areas of the world. As an ongoing challenge, COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of many organizations. In fact, “improving health and safety for employees” is the top strategic goal this year of manufacturing and logistics organizations in the U.S. and U.K., according to research conducted by Forrester on behalf of STANLEY Security. But as we think about reopening and as hybrid workforce models and “workspace-on-demand” approaches rise in popularity, leaders need to consider implementing the right technologies to help ensure a safe return to the office. This means investing in health, safety, and security solutions that can help leaders protect their people. The intersection of security technology and health and safety There’s no doubt that the scope of security has expanded in the wake of the global pandemic. What was once an area governed by a select few security or IT professionals within a business has now become a crucial company investment involving many key stakeholders. The role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses Additionally, the role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses. Fortunately, security technologies have made significant strides and many solutions, both existing and new, have been thrust forward to address today’s biggest business challenges. Investment in security technology It’s important to note that businesses are eager to adopt tech that can help them protect their people. Nearly half (46%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering an increasing investment in technology solutions that ensure employee safety. Technologies like touchless access control, visitor management systems, occupancy monitoring, and installed/wearable proximity sensors are among some of the many security technologies these organizations have implemented or are planning to implement yet this year. Facilitating a safe return to work But what does the future look like? When it comes to the post-pandemic workplace, organizations are taking a hard look at their return-to-work strategy. Flexible or hybrid workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment More than half (53%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester are looking to introduce a flexible work schedule for their employees as they make decisions about returning to work and keeping employees safe post-pandemic. Such flexible – or hybrid – workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment for all who traverse a facility or work on-site. One of the central safety and security challenges raised by these hybrid models is tracking who is present in the building at any one time – and where or how they interact. Leveraging security technology With staggered schedules and what may seem like a steady stream of people passing through, it can be difficult to know who’s an employee and who’s a visitor. Access control will be key to monitoring and managing the flow of people on-site and preventing unauthorized access. When access control systems are properly integrated with visitor management solutions, businesses can unlock further benefits and efficiencies. For instance, integrated visitor management systems can allow for pre-registration of visitors and employees – granting cellphone credentials before people arrive on-site – and automated health screening surveys can be sent out in advance to help mitigate risk. Once someone reaches the premises, these systems can also be used to detect the person’s temperature and scan for a face mask, if needed.  We will likely see these types of visitor management and advanced screening solutions continue to rise in popularity, as 47% of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering requiring employee health screening post-pandemic. Defining the office of the future A modern, dynamic workforce model will require an agile approach to office management. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring Businesses want to create an environment in which people feel comfortable and confident – a space where employees can collaborate and be creative. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring them that the necessary security measures are in place to ensure not only their safety but also their health. In many cases, this balancing act has created an unintended consequence: Everyone now feels like a visitor to a building. Protocols and processes With employees required to undergo the same screening processes and protocols as a guest, we’ve seen a transformation in the on-site experience. This further underscores the need for seamless, automated, and tightly integrated security solutions that can improve the employee and visitor experience, while helping to ensure health and safety. Ultimately, the future of the office is not about what a space looks like, but how people feel in it. This means adopting a “safety-always” culture, underpinned by the right technology, to ensure people that their safety remains a business’ top priority. 

Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics
Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics

Household adoption of smart home systems currently sits at 12.1% and is set to grow to 21.4% by 2025, expanding the market from US$ 78.3 billion to US$ 135 billion, in the same period. Although closely linked to the growth of connectivity technologies, including 5G, tech-savvy consumers are also recognizing the benefits of next-generation security systems, to protect and secure their domestic lives. Biometric technologies are already commonplace in our smartphones, PCs and payment cards, enhancing security without compromising convenience. Consequently, manufacturers and developers are taking note of biometric solutions, as a way of leveling-up their smart home solutions. Biometrics offer enhanced security As with any home, security starts at the front door and the first opportunity for biometrics to make a smart home genius lies within the smart lock. Why? Relying on inconvenient unsecure PINs and codes takes the ‘smart’ out of smart locks. As the number of connected systems in our homes increase, we cannot expect consumers to create, remember and use an ever-expanding list of unique passwords and PINs. Indeed, 60% of consumers feel they have too many to remember and the number can be as high as 85 for all personal and private accounts. Biometric solutions strengthen home access control Biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control Doing this risks consumers becoming apathetic with security, as 41% of consumers admit to re-using the same password or introducing simple minor variations, increasing the risk of hacks and breaches from weak or stolen passwords. Furthermore, continually updating and refreshing passwords, and PINs is unappealing and inconvenient. Consequently, biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control. Positives of on-device biometric storage Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition uses personally identifiable information, which is stored securely on-device. By using on-device biometric storage, manufacturers are supporting the 38% of consumers, who are worried about privacy and biometrics, and potentially winning over the 17% of people, who don’t use smart home devices for this very reason. Compared to conventional security, such as passwords, PINs or even keys, which can be spoofed, stolen, forgotten or lost, biometrics is difficult to hack and near impossible to spoof. Consequently, homes secured with biometric smart locks are made safer in a significantly more seamless and convenient way for the user. Biometric smart locks Physical access in our domestic lives doesn’t end at the front door with smart locks. Biometrics has endless opportunities to ease our daily lives, replacing passwords and PINs in all devices. Biometric smart locks provide personalized access control to sensitive and hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, safes, kitchen appliances and bike locks. They offer effective security with a touch or glance. Multi-tenanted sites, such as apartment blocks and student halls, can also become smarter and more secure. With hundreds of people occupying the same building, maintaining high levels of security is the responsibility for every individual occupant. Biometric smart locks limit entry to authorized tenants and eliminate the impact of lost or stolen keys, and passcodes. Furthermore, there’s no need for costly lock replacements and when people leave the building permanently, their data is easily removed from the device. Authorized building access Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door, but also throughout the entire building, such as washing rooms, mail rooms, bike rooms and community spaces, such as gyms. Different people might have different levels of access to these areas, depending on their contracts, creating an access control headache. But, by having biometric smart locks, security teams can ensure that only authorized people have access to the right combination of rooms and areas. Convenience of biometric access cards Additionally, if building owners have options, the biometric sensors can be integrated into the doors themselves, thereby allowing users to touch the sensor, to unlock the door and enter. Furthermore, the latest technology allows biometric access cards to be used. This embeds the sensor into a contactless keycard, allowing the user to place their thumb on the sensor and tap the card to unlock the door. This may be preferable in circumstances where contactless keycards are already in use and can be upgraded. Smarter and seamless security In tandem with the growth of the smart home ecosystem, biometrics has real potential to enhance our daily lives, by delivering smarter, seamless and more convenient security. Significant innovation has made biometrics access control faster, more accurate and secure. Furthermore, today’s sensors are durable and energy efficient. With the capacity for over 10 million touches and ultra-low power consumption, smart home system developers no longer have to worry about added power demands. As consumers continue to invest in their homes and explore new ways to secure and access them, biometrics offers a golden opportunity for market players, to differentiate and make smart homes even smarter.