How 5G will change industries and cyber risks
Moving to a 5G World
5G is likely to usher in a world of new industries, technologies and modern conveniences. It could significantly reshape every aspect of how we live our lives from transportation, to entertainment and medicine.
What’s so different about 5G? In short, it is massively faster than 4G. This speed will spawn new industries, companies, services and conveniences. In a 5G future, soldiers injured in war may be operated on by doctors that are thousands of miles away (until they’re completely replaced by remote controlled robots). Gamers in Los Angeles could inhabit a virtual world with teammates from Madrid, Singapore, Stockholm and Tokyo to battle the forces of evil and save planet Earth – at least in their minds. Autonomous trucks may be able to achieve previously unheard of levels of fuel efficiency, reliability, durability and – most importantly – safety.
As with all technological advancements, the benefits are balanced by the risks. As 5G ushers in a highly connected and efficient world, it will dramatically increase the cyber “attack surface.” It will also expose us to higher frequency radio waves that have been the focus of some concerned citizens. But, as with all new risks, science and data must be brought to the table to separate the wheat-from-the-chaff.
What is the Risk Manager’s role in this transition? It is to aid the executive team in analyzing and understanding the shift to 5G. Data, facts, and analysis will allow executives to shape new business strategies, and, most importantly, prepare for the potential unforeseen, unintended or accidental consequences. This will support business success in a 5G world.
Transforming Business & Industry
5G has the potential to transform not only our daily lives but also virtually every industry. Here’s how it could impact a few:
Agriculture: Smart Farming with 5G could move beyond “end-of-day” analytics acting on data in real-time, boosting productivity and optimizing management of crucial resources. Two examples are water management and food waste.
Manufacturing: With 5G, we can expect further advances of “Industry 4.0.” 5G can push smart manufacturing beyond simply using sensors to help an automated system work better and smarter. 5G’s capabilities should enable manufacturers to leverage automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR), and IoT.
Energy: Moving to a “smart grid” could revolutionize energy management, generation, distribution and consumption in the coming years – and 5G will support a more reliable and efficient energy infrastructure. Capturing data via sensors would allow energy companies to proactively decrease energy consumption – both at the individual and system levels.
Healthcare: 5G can enable the full possibilities of telemedicine- connecting healthcare providers and patients across distances. Using IoT devices, healthcare workers can accurately assess patients and provide better care. Using head-mounted displays via Augmented Reality (AR), doctors can superimpose images, such as MRI and CT scans, onto a patient’s body providing a more accurate and precise representation, and cohesive representation of health issues.
Mobility - Autonomous Vehicles: A fully integrated 5G network could create seamless traffic “ecosystems” with on-board and off-board devices continuously communicating. Each vehicle could share data that would impact decision making beyond its four doors communicating broadly with other nodes in the ecosystem. This will require near-zero latency: a vehicle cannot wait more than a few milliseconds (max 20) to receive information, process it and make the right decision.
5G benefits will likely significantly outweigh the costs. But, as with all new technologies, the rollout has precipitated warnings of potential risks. Some of the most cited risks include the human health impact of exposure to 5G radio waves and a substantial increase in cyber risks.
5G technology will require many signal boosting antennae that will be installed in high density clusters. There will be many more devices transmitting high frequency 5G signals versus current 4G. This has stoked fears that humans may be harmed by exposure to large amounts of “new” frequency waves. However, the current scientific literature shows no adverse consequences of exposure to 5G waves and devices. While there will be continued studies on human health, any claims that 5G is harmful today are not supported by science and data.
Increased connectivity brings tremendous benefits, but also increased cyber risks. There will be more and new types of connected devices. The new devices will create new security challenges. And, if the future mirrors the past, it is likely that IoT devices will have substandard or inadequate cyber security. The bar is high for these devices – even seemingly “perfectly” secured devices will exhibit unforeseen security flaws. And, the vast quantity of data produced and transferred will be targeted by cyber threat actors seeking big dollars, competitive advantage and other interests. Companies will need to up their cyber security game to protect their highly valuable data assets, but also comply with regulatory requirements which are sure to grow with the implementation of 5G.
AIG looks forward to partnering with companies as they work through this risk evaluation. We are committed to providing support, and working with companies, universities, researchers and governments to ensure that the move to a 5G world happens safely, securely and expeditiously. This is at the very heart of our mission – “helping clients prepare for what’s next.”