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With 5G Adoption, Come New Cybersecurity Risks to Mitigate

Newer, faster bandwidth enables innovation and expands cyberattack surface.

NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2020—Most professionals say their organizations are concerned about cybersecurity risks related to 5G adoption (76.4% of professionals at organizations currently use 5G and 80.7% of professionals at organizations plan to adopt 5G in the year ahead), according to a new Deloitte poll.

U.S. 5G bandwidth availability has expanded and accelerated considerably in recent months, offering competitive advantages technologically, financially and otherwise to early adopters,” said Wendy Frank, Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory Cyber 5G leader and principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP. “Of course, with all the technological advancement 5G enables, the cyber threat landscape and attack surface areas expand considerably. Working proactively to mitigate cybersecurity risks posed by 5G adoption is the hallmark of a well-designed program.”

The biggest cybersecurity concerns for 5G adoption differed by group. For professionals at organizations currently using 5G, talent posed the biggest cyber challenge to 5G adoption (30.1%), as appropriately skilled security professionals will be needed for implementation, maintenance and operations. For respondents from organizations planning to adopt 5G in the year ahead, top cyber challenges were data (26.8%) – due to an increase in the volume and diversity of data created from 5G-enabled segments (e.g., IoT, ERP and sensitive data) as well as data mismanagement risks – and third parties (24.3%).

“For organizations leveraging 5G, cyber risk will mount quickly if challenges -- like a lack sophisticated encryption, decentralized operations or security monitoring functioning to the detriment of performance speeds – are not resolved,” Frank said. “Securing the vastly expanded threat landscape resulting from 5G adoption will demand two equally important efforts: getting the right talent in place or upskilled; and, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate areas like security policy configuration, compliance monitoring and threat and vulnerability detection.”

Pandemic impacts 5G adoption speeds

COVID-19 disruption had mixed impacts on respondents’ organizational plans to adopt 5G. For those at organizations currently using 5G, 32.2% increased adoption speed. Inversely, adoption speed decreased as a result of pandemic-driven disruption for 21.8% of those at organizations planning to adopt 5G in the year ahead.

Frank concluded, “The faster movement of data, the creation of new types of data and the ability to develop countless new IoT devices through 5G networks will disrupt most industries. But, just as with pandemic disruption, leading programs are working to keep security at the fore of 5G adoption.”

About the online poll

More than 500 professionals from organizations already using 5G or planning to adopt 5G within the next 12 months were polled online during a Deloitte webcast titled, “Preparing an integrated cybersecurity approach for the advent of 5G,” on Oct. 29, 2020. Answer rates differed by question.

About Deloitte

Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90% of the Fortune 500® and more than 7,000 private companies. Our people come together for the greater good and work across the industry sectors that drive and shape today’s marketplace — delivering measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to see challenges as opportunities to transform and thrive, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthier society. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them. Now celebrating 175 years of service, our network of member firms spans more than 150 countries and territories. Learn how Deloitte’s more than 330,000 people worldwide connect for impact at www.deloitte.com.

Media contacts:

Shelley Pfaendler
Public Relations 
Deloitte Services LP
+1 212 492 4484

Taylor Graham
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 410 576 6707

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