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5G is the fifth generation of cellular wireless technology and the new standard for mobile communications. It offers lower latency, higher data transfer speed, greater reliability and more capacity to carry a larger number of connections than existing connectivity and communications platforms.

As is typically the case with any new technological advancement, there’s a fair amount of hype and debate in the market about the benefits, use cases and potential barriers to overcome when extracting optimum value from an investment in it.

Specifically, private 5G is attracting attention in the enterprise market because of the additional layer of cybersecurity and data privacy it promises to deliver.

Indeed, security is a topic that’s high on the CIO agenda, given the ever-evolving threat landscape, potential new gaps in organizations’ security armor introduced by hybrid and remote working arrangements, not to mention intensifying levels of opportunism on the part of cybercriminals.

In contemplating the security implications and benefits of private 5G, NTT believes there are two core considerations to bear in mind.

1.    5G is natively more secure…

In our recent conversations with CIOs from our client organizations, some 70% shared that the security of their networks was the most significant pain point that they believed their current connectivity and communications platforms weren’t adequately addressing. Specifically, the ability of their standard Wi-Fi networks to deliver the level of security that their organization requires was a concern for 80% of the CIOs with whom we spoke.

When asked about the key outcomes they hoped to realize from a private 5G implementation, improved data privacy and security topped the list.

The truth is that standard Wi-Fi networks simply can’t provide the level of security that modern businesses require. Private 5G technology brings a baseline level of security, natively, thanks to the security protocols inherent in these networks.

This is partly because 5G technology provides a redesigned authentication framework. In addition, sim-based authentication is utilized as opposed to less secure mechanisms such as passwords or certificates used in standard wireless networks.

Improved data integrity and data sovereignty are other advantages of a private 5G solution due to a more flexible security policy, enhanced subscriber privacy, and encrypted transmission where user data is encrypted end to end across the 5G network.

2. … but its efficacy depends on the correct architecture and deployment

5G is a departure from traditional network approaches that rely on physical, monolithic blocks of hardware; it’s deployed into a fully virtual environment.

It follows that, as with any new technology or protocol, teething problems can occur if organizations invest in it without a clear understanding of how best to architect, deploy, integrate and manage it.

Just like when you deploy a new application into your data center – for example, a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in your enterprise network, a call manager cluster for a voice application or a video conferencing system for a VC room – you must understand and follow enterprise best practices. From a security perspective, you need to ensure the right protocols are applied and that traffic is correctly segmented.

As 5G is new and relatively untested in the enterprise space, extra care needs to be taken to sidestep potential pitfalls. Likewise, while the transmission medium of 5G is highly secure, if deployment is not thoughtfully approached and augmented with enterprise security controls for a holistic security posture, it’s possible that you’ll fail to realize the improved data privacy and security outcomes you expect.

Final thoughts

5G networks offer you a level of security that your standard Wi-Fi networks or connectivity and communications platforms can’t provide, at least to the level you need in an enterprise world where cyberthreats are abound and increasing in scope and severity.

At NTT, we recommend that if you’re considering enterprise 5G, you’d do well to optimize your investment by opting for a private rather than public solution. This will allow you to reap the benefits of a dedicated, customizable and inherently secure platform rather than a shared, best-effort option.

Importantly, with a private 5G solution enhanced with enterprise-focused security features, you’ll command a far greater degree of control over how your network operates, which translates into better control and visibility of your overall enterprise security posture.

Our own Senior Vice President: Technology Strategy, Nadeem Ahmad, tackles the topic of balancing private 5G adoption with addressing enterprise security concerns in this private 5G security whitepaper.

Learn more about NTT’s Private 5G and request a consultation.