5G was supposed to make wireless networks more secure, but that’s not panning out, according to research conducted by GlobalData and commissioned by Nokia.
Nearly three-quarters of the 5G network operators surveyed said they’ve experienced up to six security breaches or cyberattacks in the past year, according to the report published Tuesday. These breaches resulted in network downtime, customer data leaks, regulatory liabilities, fraud and monetary theft.
“Breaches are the rule, not the exception,” Nokia wrote in the report.
Proponents of the latest generation of wireless network architecture have long claimed the new protocols and cloud-based architectures introduced by 5G standards will boost the defenses of telecom infrastructure.
Now, almost four years after the first 5G networks went live, network operators said their defenses and ability to confront these threats are lacking.
Almost 7 in 10 respondents said their current capabilities are insufficient to manage ransomware threats, and more than half said the same for phishing and social engineering attacks.
Automation, a key advancement of the 5G era, has failed to materialize at the levels necessary for cybersecurity.
Nearly two-thirds of the network operators surveyed said security staff spend more than 30% of their time on manual security tasks. More than 4 in 10 respondents said at least 40% of security teams’ time is spent on vulnerability and threat management tasks that could be automated.
“The substantial changes taking place in the 5G ecosystem are bringing both new dimensions to the telecom threat landscape and opportunities for malicious actors to take advantage of network security vulnerabilities,” Vishal Saha, Nokia’s head of managed security services, cloud and cognitive services, said in a statement.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency acknowledged the expanded threat surface introduced by 5G in May when it issued a five-step security evaluation to counter these threats, vulnerabilities and supply chain concerns facing enterprises and government agencies.
Nokia commissioned GlobalData in spring 2022 to survey 50 network operators based in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Respondents included security IT professionals, network and security operations center managers, enterprise services professionals and members of the C-suite.