Fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology promises to deliver wondrous new capabilities ranging from smart cities to smart factories, smart cars, and more. Moving from promise to reality will require those networks to be secure. The technology that enables 5G, however, brings with it two compounding cybersecurity challenges. First, the “virtualization” in software of network functions previously performed by hardware introduces the potential to hack that software. At the same time, the wireless industry has seized on virtualization as the basis for new protocols that will open the market to new providers of network components, thus further expanding potential attack vectors.
The “smart” future rests on secure network pathways, yet the United States has not addressed the need for regulatory oversight of a common approach to 5G cybersecurity.
On December 15, the Center for Technology at Brookings held a discussion that focused on the multiple cybersecurity paradoxes represented by 5G, such as the paradox of ending reliance on single source suppliers, like Huawei, while opening the door to other cyber threats. This event expanded on the findings of a new Brookings report that examines these challenges and offers solutions to mitigate them. The panel also explored the cybersecurity ramifications of 5G and proposed a plan for national cybersecurity oversight, including a plan for funding the network implementation of security requirements.
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