The 5G reality

Mobile World Congress has come and gone. With over 100,000 attendees at the show, people gathered around the impressive booths to get a glimpse at what the world’s biggest mobile brands had to offer in 2017.

There was definitely a theme of nostalgia at play with the highly anticipated return of the classic Nokia 3310 (including Snake!), as well as other exciting and impressive device launches from the likes of LG and Sony.

But walking around the show floor and talking to people over the course of the four days, it became clear it was not the devices taking centre stage, but in fact 5G. Everywhere I looked I saw companies shouting about being at the ‘cutting edge of 5G’.

Now, 5G was definitely on everyone’s radar at last year’s MWC, but this year it felt slightly more real. In fact, Mats Granryd, director-general of GSMA, even said ahead of the show: “We will move away from being vague on the prospects of 5G this year to concrete proposals.” And he was right, we saw this from many of the big mobile players at the show fighting to be seen as being at the forefront of 5G. Because this ‘transformative power’ is no longer just a hype, but set to become a reality in the next few years.

And as exciting as 5G is – and it is incredibly exciting – I’m also concerned about its arrival. Because with 5G comes a world of vulnerabilities – a world of security vulnerabilities that no one seems to be discussing or addressing in their proposals. With 5G comes download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (that’s 1,000 times faster than the current US 4G average), but what that also means is thousands more devices introducing more vulnerabilities into a world already struggling to deal with the countless devices flooding the internet.

Our recent Mobile Threats Report found more than 4,000 potentially malicious apps had been removed from Google Play, and 500,000+ devices still have these apps actively installed, putting users’ security at risk. This is happening now in a world of 4G, highlighting the fact that there are existing security issues that we must address before we should even consider bringing 5G to consumers.

As we veer closer to a world of 5G hyper connectivity, we must not forget security. And OK, it may not sound like the sexiest part of the ‘5G revolution’ but it has a huge role to play, and my mind will not be at ease until we start to address it. Because 5G will be an ‘evolution’ and the sooner security is considered the better for all of us.

In the coming months, I hope to see these very companies touting about how they are revolutionising our worlds with 5G telling us how they plan on addressing the security and privacy implications that come with it. It’s key that our safety and security is considered first.


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