5G Is More Secure Than 4G and 3G—Except When It’s Not
The next-generation wireless networks make it harder to track and spoof users, but security holes remain because devices still connect to older networks.
You’ve probably been hearing the hype about lightning-fast 5G for years now. And while the new wireless networks still aren’t ubiquitous in the United States, 5G is slowly cropping up in cities from Boston and Seattle to Dallas and Kansas City. With the faster connection speeds will come increased security and privacy protections for users, as the wireless industry attempts to improve on the defenses of 3G and 4G. But while 5G researchers say that the new network will bring major improvements, it still has some shortcomings of its own.
There are a few major security wins in 5G. Many relate to anti-tracking and spoofing features that make it harder for bad actors on a network to track and manipulate individual device connections. To do this, 5G encrypts more data, so less is flying around in the clear for anyone to intercept. 5G is also a much more software and cloud-based system than previous wireless networks, which will allow for better monitoring to spot potential threats. It will also enable operators to do what’s called “network slicing”—segmenting the system in numerous virtual networks that can be managed and customized separately. This means that different “slices” could have different tailored protections for specifics types of devices.