Security in a 5G world

5G is a set to be a game changer for many industries, enabling greater collation, processing and sharing of data than ever before.

Greater bandwidth means many more devices than previously can be connected to a network, most of which are likely to be machines or things rather than personal devices. It also offers lower latency – perfect where timing of data processing and application is crucial.

Using this data to generate actionable insights will allow organisations to work smarter, make better use of facilities, people and equipment and create more efficient processes. To truly benefit from the Industrial Internet of Things requires security and resilience as an enabler. While the larger number of devices increases the potential attack surface, this is countered by security which is designed into 5G, such as network access control, strong mutual authentication and encryption.

The Worcestershire 5G Testbed (now nexGworx) was created through the DCMS 5G Testbed and Trials (5GTT) Programme in 2018 to undertake research to quantify how 5G could improve productivity in manufacturing. A summary of security findings can be found in Chapter 4 of the final Worcestershire 5G report and in the 5G Network Architecture and Security Report.

Chris Walker of QinetiQ discusses security in 5G

This included enabling ‘cyber safe’ live 5G environments within industrial settings.

Manufacturing businesses face a range of operational requirements, with complex operating environments and various safety and security considerations, even before implementing IIOT systems. Many processing requirements currently take place manually or via Wi-Fi or cable technology that has limited support and capacity to share high volumes of data.

From our 5GTT days to the present, nexGworx has been working with security experts at QinetiQ and BT to ensure that security by design underpins everything we do.

Built around its work with us, QinetiQ has also developed and launched four new services covering Network Security Testing and a Test and Assurance Service for 5G applications. These form part of its Cyber and Digital Resilience portfolio, which is specifically aimed at providing a complete security offer for 5G IoT Device and Platform testing: 5G Security and Resilience.

We continue to work with both organisations and our close collaboration means customers making use of nexGworx’ Testbed as a Service offers continue to benefit from access to these industry experts, ensuring all programmes, systems and applications developed through our testbed are inherently Secure by Design.