Why Cybersecurity Can’t Be an Afterthought in the 5G Era


CISOs must roll out 5G business strategies by tackling the transformation of risk management and cybersecurity and by implementing security economically.

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) has moved to front and center in the top management structure of service providers – and for good reason. Their work is vital for the business success of every digital service provider, not merely a background function to be checked off the list as completed.

CISO teams keep their company’s data safe, useful and accessible. They also protect customer data from any threat, at any time. These are heavy-weighted responsibilities in an age when security breaches hit the headlines and can quickly result in huge financial and reputational repercussions.

See also: Implementing cybersecurity for the smart grid is a must

In meeting such responsibilities, CISOs must take into account their organization’s 5G business strategy by managing the transformation of risk management and cybersecurity and implementing security cost-effectively to ensure a healthy network, high service performance, and, ultimately, complete customer satisfaction.

So, how can CISO teams meet such multi-faceted and complex demands?

Stay on top of costs with adaptive security

Firstly, security solutions need to be flexible, adaptive and integrated, providing an all-encompassing view. This avoids piecemeal security with point solutions bolted together, which is not only a fragmented environment that is difficult to manage, causing operational costs to rocket, but cannot provide fully effective protection.

Secondly, technology innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and automation are better able to defend against the advanced and growing threat landscape. These technologies compare network traffic packets with historical patterns and spot anomalies in an instant. IT security experts are then alerted immediately so they can decide the best course of action, which is vital to a speedy defense.

AI can scan all incoming and outgoing network traffic and other things impossible for us mere humans to do manually. Cognitive analytics aggregate and correlate security data from many sources, enriching it with context. This helps the CISO and security operations teams to fully understand the business risks they face, improve their decision making and better control costs.

Respond rapidly to breaches

One of the most important success factors in security is reducing the dwell time – that is, the length of time a hacker goes undetected, should they breach first-line security to gain access to the network. The longer they have, the more chances they get to hunt around the network for valuable data they can steal. With adaptability, analytics, machine learning, orchestration and automation, a hacker’s dwell time can be cut by 80 percent.

Automation is vital to increase the speed of response and to tackle the growing workload facing security teams. In fact, 33 percent of incident response time is spent on manual processes. It’s little surprise then that manual processes cannot be scaled up to meet the rise in threats that will inevitably accompany the growth in 5G business.

Consider security a business enabler, not a business drag

While some digital service providers will allocate cybersecurity responsibilities to their own CISOs, others will outsource security to Managed Security Service Providers. Either way, flexible and adaptive cybersecurity is simply not optional, as it proactively prevents data loss, reduces network outages and minimizes performance degradations to preserve revenue, improve the customer experience, cut costs and exceed compliance responsibilities.

While an effective first line of defense of firewalls and other measures will stop nearly all hackers before they can get into a network, a few attacks will inevitably get through. But with rapid, automated and smart detection and response, even these breaches can be tackled to protect customer data.

Embrace 5G cybersecurity

In the era of 5G, flexible cybersecurity will be easier – and more lucrative – to implement than ever before. Take network slicing, for example.

5G network slicing will enable service providers to offer highly-tailored services that can win the business of a wide range of new customers across multiple industries. Offering different and flexible security levels matched to the needs of the service delivered by a network slice will be a monetizing opportunity. Put simply, a gaming service network slice does not need the highest levels of security that are essential to protect life-or-death public safety communications.

5G security needs to be in place whenever service launches are being planned or when new partners and customers are connected. If it isn’t, the huge new revenue opportunities of 5G will be at risk. Business success relies on 5G services being secure by design – which is why it must never be an afterthought.

The demands on a CISO have never been more mission-critical. But with 5G on the near horizon, there is a huge amount of potential ready to be embraced in the world of cybersecurity to reduce cost, breach time and issues in customer experience like never before. Now is not the time to shy away from innovation, or place it on the backburner – CISO teams are in the perfect position to lead service providers, safely, into the era of 5G.

Gerald Reddig

About Gerald Reddig

Gerald Reddig is a senior business leader with more than 20 years management experience in the IT and telecommunication industry. He is leading Nokia’s portfolio marketing for Security and Network Management solutions. He holds a master’s degree in business administration and engineering and held positions in product management and business development including leadership responsibilities for European projects in the field of mobile Internet and communication services. He is a member of the broadband forum, directs Nokia’s membership in the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance as well as leading Nokia’s Security Center in Finland.

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