The director of Aon’s Cyber Solutions Group has warned other brokers about the risks associated with 5G, saying major disruption could well be on the horizon.
“Industry analysts speculate that there will be about 20 billion connected devices by 2020,” says Chris McLaughlin (pictured). “The challenge for enterprise is that, in theory, every one of those devices is a potential ground zero for cyber failures and cyberattacks.”
The fifth-generation cellular network technology, 5G is designed to provide enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-low latency networks, highly reliable services, and to facilitate Internet of Things (IoT) networks that McLaughlin says has the potential to transform the way many sectors of the economy operate.
However, while 5G standards include several privacy safeguards, McLaughlin says there is still a significant degree of risk associated with the technology.
“New vulnerabilities are being discovered in 5G protocols related to broadcasting and authentication that can be used for tracking user’s mobile activity, breaching privacy regulations,” he says.
“While 5G brings with it the promise of high-speed complex distributed systems, the greater their role in critical infrastructure, the greater the system risk and potential for cyber risk contagion – potentially magnifying the consequences of a cyberattack.”
As a result, McLaughlin is calling on businesses – and brokers – to put adequate plans in place.
“Businesses should be looking to take proactive steps to prepare for the challenges of 5G and properly govern the IoT infrastructure it enables,” he tells Insurance Business. “Re-aligning security strategies and providing additional funding and resources can take into account the growing threat of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that can be magnified by 5G networks.”
However, McLaughlin admits that securing devices which traditionally have limited capacity and low bandwidth – but now have 5G connectivity – is going to be a real challenge, especially for SMEs that may not currently understand their own risk profile.
“Putting in place robust risk management practices, reviewing options for Security Orchestration and Automation (SOA), implementing IoT device and data monitoring, deploying unified threat intelligence capability and robust incident response are all areas that Australian business should review,” he says.
Of course, this is all likely to sound somewhat overwhelming to SMEs – which is where the importance of brokers really comes into play.
“Brokers should be helping their clients to understand and quantify their cyber risks and support them in developing appropriate strategies and mitigants,” says McLaughlin.
“At Aon, we understand the value in getting to know our client base to understand their key priorities and provide them with the services that add real and quantifiable value to their organisations.”