5G could pose a huge cybersecurity risk: Ruchir Shukla, MD, SafeHouse Tech

Ruchir Shukla is Managing Director at SafeHouse Tech, an Indian-Israeli cyber security company. Over the past 5 years, he has played a pivotal role in accelerating the company’s growth and building sustainable sales & operation channels for SafeHouse in India, spreading the company’s reach to be actively selling in over 700 Indian cities, and recording product sales worth over 100 crore in less than 2 years. Ruchir holds a Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree from IIT Kharagpur. In an interaction with Times of India Tech-Gadgets Now, Shah talks about the security risks that 5G poses and what smartphone users as well as enterprises can do.
Q. What is the biggest danger that 5G poses?
With the launch of the 5G network in India, the internet speed will be significantly fast with low latency resulting in more and more internet access. However, it will also give rise to some serious security vulnerabilities in the form of cyber threats like Denial of Service, massive botnet attacks, etc. Considering that 5G architecture is a new development in the industry, it can bring a multitude of network attacks we might be unaware of.
As excited as we are to experience the fast internet, cybercriminals will also use 5G’s high speed to innovate and execute bigger network attacks, and spread malware faster than ever before. Another aspect here is our growing dependence on IoT devices, starting from our smartwatches to home appliances like refrigerators, and air conditioners, we have moved to use smart appliances without knowing the potential risks and security loopholes through which attackers/cybercriminals can get access. While 5G will be a driving change in the IoT as more and more devices will be connected but it would also lead to more security breaches. The advent of 5G could pose a cybersecurity risk due to the absence of encryption in the network connectivity leading to exposing device details and enabling hackers to easily intercept data for IoT-focussed attacks specific to devices. 5G security is cumbersome, it would require protection at the main network, endpoints, and the devices connected to the network. Hence, it is paramount for companies to build different approaches for end-to-end security not only for enterprises but also for individual users.
Another danger that I foresee is that attackers could use 5G-related offers or services to perform phishing or OTP fraud by sending fake emails or messages that claim to offer an upgrade from 4G to 5G. These messages could use fake logos and branding to appear legitimate and could include links or attachments that are designed to trick the victim into providing sensitive information or installing malware.
Q. What is it that you think telcos need to do to protect users?
While the advanced connectivity and new architecture will ramp up IoT in telecom, the telcos will also face risks and vulnerabilities they may not know how to deal with. 5G will create more security concerns leading telecom companies to alter their strategies to ensure maximum network security for consumers. These concerns will demand a shift towards more automated security processes, orchestration capabilities, security-centric methodologies, and flexible security services. These companies should also think of a different security focussed approach with more enhancements than 4G while planning their transformation to 5G. Needless to say that 5G networks will bring in new security requirements and to cope with these, telcos would need to step up and will have to support policymakers as and when required.
Another significant aspect for telcos is to leverage DevSecOps with more impetus on security and operational capabilities. This will help telecom companies to put in place IT concepts on network security and a more secure software development approach. Additionally, telecom companies can also work with governments and other organizations to develop and implement industry-wide standards and best practices for 5G security. This can help ensure that all companies are taking steps to protect against potential threats and that the overall 5G ecosystem is secure.
Overall, protecting against 5G threats will require a combination of technical measures, industry collaboration, and ongoing vigilance to ensure that the benefits of 5G technology can be realized without putting user data and privacy at risk.
Q. Any do’s and don’ts that you think users should follow?
Keep your devices and software up to date: Don’t ignore device updates. Run timely updates to ensure that you have the latest security patches and features, which can help protect you from known vulnerabilities.
Use a reputed security solution: This will help protect your devices from malware, block malicious websites for you, identify apps that may be suspicious or potentially harmful, and provide warnings before you download them. Additionally, it will give you a safe browsing experience and protect you from scams and other online threats. Be cautious when clicking on links and installing softwares or apps: Don’t click on links or download files, apps and softwares from sources that you don’t trust, as they could be malicious. There’s a chance that your device could be infected with malware and cause a variety of problems like crashing your device and stealing your personal data.
Don’t use public WiFi networks without protection: Public WiFi networks are often unsecured, so it’s important to use a VPN or other security measures when accessing them. The VPN enabled encrypted connection will protect your data from being intercepted by hackers.
Use longer passwords: Avoid using weak or easily guessable passwords for your accounts and devices, as they can be easily hacked. Instead, use strong passwords with a mix of letters, numbers and special characters. Refrain from using obvious things like your name, birth date or common words that can be easily guessed.
Don’t fall for ‘too good to be true’ offers: Be cautious of offers that seem unbelievable. If someone offers you a free 5G upgrade or a great deal on 5G services, be sure to verify the offer before giving them any personal information or money.
Q. What are the kind of threats related to 5G connectivity that you see?
Since 5G networks are expected to be faster and more efficient than previous generations of cellular technology, they will enable new applications and services that were not previously possible. This means that 5G networks will likely be a target for cyber attackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities in the technology.
Some of the potential threats and challenges associated with 5G networks include
Malware and ransomware attacks: As 5G networks will become more widely adopted, they are likely to be targeted by malware and ransomware attacks. These attacks can compromise the security of the network and its users, leading to data breaches and other security incidents. With 5G, a cybercriminal could possibly access a large number of compromised devices (such as smartphones or smart home devices) to quickly spread malware or ransomware across a network eventually allowing the attacker to infect a large number of devices in a short amount of time, potentially causing widespread disruption and damage.
DDoS attacks: 5G technology has the potential to significantly increase the speed and capacity of wireless networks. This increased speed and capacity could make it easier for attackers to launch large-scale DDoS attacks. For instance, with 5G, an attacker could potentially use a large number of connected devices (such as smartphones or smart home devices) to generate massive amounts of traffic and overwhelm a website or online service. This could make it difficult for the targeted website or service to function properly, and could potentially cause significant disruptions. Attackers could potentially use advanced techniques to bypass security measures and launch attacks that are more difficult to detect and defend against.
Man-in-the-middle attacks: With 5G, an attacker could use new techniques to intercept and manipulate data transmitted over the network. This could allow the attacker to read, modify, or even impersonate one of the parties involved in the communication, potentially leading to the theft of sensitive information or the compromise of systems and networks. Additionally, the increased speed and capacity of 5G networks could also make it easier for attackers to launch more sophisticated MitM attacks.
Q. How do you see the cyber security landscape in the country?
Cybercrime incidents are overall on a rise and the arrival of 5G in India will proliferate the cases considering 5G’s architecture is relatively new in India and it will open doors for cyber attacks. As we are inventing, cybercriminals are also innovating new ways to access our data and the launch of 5G is a golden opportunity for them as 5G will connect everything -— humans, machines, and devices.
Currently, India has 658 million internet users and 600 million smartphone users, the number is expected to grow exponentially in the years to come making mobile security a necessity for all. Mobile security apps have a variety of features that secure your phone data, including sensitive info and other data stored in it. One of the major benefits of installing a mobile protection app is real-time protection and digital safety against mobile security risks.




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