Fifth-generation mobile technology (5G) will soon revolutionize global telecommunications. It will forge connections between physical devices and the digital world that share, compute, and act on information with unprecedented speed, size, and responsiveness.
Telecommunications networks will become virtualized and incorporate open-source software, driving down costs, and easily tailored to specific users’ operational needs. This technology will empower sectors as diverse as healthcare, logistics, and defense to adopt new operating models, gaining actionable insights and driving efficiencies.
Simultaneously, 5G’s changes will translate to new risks. The deployment of exponentially more and varied mission-critical Internet of Things (IoT) devices will present threat actors with new opportunities to disrupt the economy, public health, and safety. These devices will generate massive volumes of data that can be stolen, destroyed, or manipulated. Virtual networks customized for specific sectors and organizations will facilitate novel targeted threats to them. New software and hardware supply chains make untrusted components common in the 5G ecosystem.
This report outlines, for operators and their supportive government partners, 5G’s most significant technical changes, its diverse operational value, the opportunities it offers, the risks that may emerge, and recommendations for managing risk. In addition, to illustrate these risks, this paper presents 10 scenarios related to the different technologies in the 5G ecosystem and key countermeasures to consider when developing a 5G strategy. The government and the private sector must recognize and address these risks to seize this moment.