What is 5G shared responsibility and how would it work?

Last updated: 01 September 2021

5G is fundamentally different from anything we’ve ever seen. By 2023, the new technology is predicted to host 25 billion device connections, jumping to 75 billion by 2025. That’s more than 9 devices per person on earth. 

5G offers more than just the ability to see videos faster. Compared to 4G, it offers a higher transmission speed, lower latency and increased bandwidth. 

Large-scale implementation of 5G technology will present enormous opportunities for industries. For enterprises and subscribers, 5G will enable exciting high performance and reliable connectivity. It will also benefit mobile operators and every critical infrastructure sector by unlocking significant new revenue-generating opportunities, while maximizing service efficiency. 

However, there is one serious consideration to this new technology – data security. Where and to how many should data security be assigned? Who should hold the responsibility of ensuring data is secure? 

One solution is a ‘shared responsibility’ model. This is where responsibility for cloud security is shared between several parties, including operators, subscribers and the enterprise. 

But how does it work, and how can it be successfully implemented? 

Building a collaborative ecosystem  

Within a shared responsibility model, the cloud service that holds the data, and the service provider that delivers it, are interconnected. However, the shared responsibility model is not only a collaborative network, but a whole ecosystem encompassing several components. 

Multiple parties have to get involved, including cloud service providers, the enterprise and mobile network operators.  Each party is responsible for what data is on the network, and should expect this ecosystem to be secure, reliable and private. 

It is important to educate each party on the importance of 5G security so that both the enterprise and consumers can reap the benefits. A breakdown of even one of these components could have serious consequences for the entire ecosystem. 

Ensuring data privacy

Using 5G, the average person will produce 1 Gigabyte of data per day, and a substantial amount of that data will be sensitive information. This will also be transmitted over a wider variety of devices, leading to billions of them collecting and analyzing information in real time. 

Due to the sensitivity of the data, a global policy will be needed to define how it will be used, handled, and shared between different parties. For example, proposed legislation such as the ePrivacy Regulation, which explains how data should be handled, may need to be clarified or enhanced specifically around data in motion. This could help address increasing demands for privacy for data that is shared between different entities and applications. 

Implementing enhanced security 

Compared to 4G, 5G is fundamentally different and more complex by design. Its entire security core differs from earlier wireless technologies, whilst its virtualization and shared infrastructure aspects are unique. However, these new advances make it more vulnerable to attacks, and every entity involved will have to enhance security to handle the broader responsibilities that make 5G so attractive. 

The hugely anticipated launch of driverless cars is a good example of this. Through vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V), autonomous cars can share information between other vehicles on anything ranging from traffic and weather conditions to pedestrian safety. This data will then be fed from disparate systems, and the vehicles will generate data back to those systems. 

However, this means that driverless cars could also pose a huge security risk within the shared security model. They could become a target of cyberattacks, with attackers potentially being able to increase vehicle speed and cause an accident. Therefore, a robust security system should be at the heart of the 5G shared responsibility model in order to protect users from hostile cyber actors. 

The implementation of 5G technology will not only benefit industries, but transform our lives. However, we cannot enter into this new arena without a well-planned security model. Shared responsibility offers an opportunity for the enterprise, cloud service providers and 5G manufacturers to reap the benefits of network implementation, whilst also ensuring data is secure. 

Learn more about 5G network connectivity data infrastructures in our Thales Security Sessions Podcast. Or if you’re interested in this type of technology, tweet us @ThalesDigiSec! 

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