Latest insights from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Barometer show that 41% of execs think 5G is now less important than it was before the pandemic. There are numerous reasons why this could be the case, one being that 4G and home broadband has been proven to be up to the job of supporting home working. 

There’s also no escaping the headlines that surround 5G and political espionage. They read like a script from House of Cards. Presidents, prime ministers, heads of foreign intelligence services and global corporate leaders, providing the colourful characters that are essential in any good political drama. It could well have made some organisations rethink their plans for adopting 5G enabled technologies and wait until there can be more assurances on security.

New technologies 

The latest edict by the UK government is a pretty clear statement. It has promoted many industry insiders to say that it will take years to exchange kit, possibly even a decade for some operators, as they take on the heavy lifting of removing core network components and finding alternative suppliers. The financial impact is huge: operators will have to find additional budget to purchase the kit, conduct validation and integration testing, overhaul their service wrap around offers and factor in the time and cost of retraining employees on new technology. 

Achieve new ambitions related to driverless cars

Despite all this, many carriers have made very public statements that they will progress with 5G as planned, some are even accelerating plans. The insight available to them confirms that there is still a good proportion of businesses and pubic bodies that see its value. It’s a way to propel smart city development and connectivity, and to achieve new ambitions related to driverless cars, and highly automated manufacturing for example. 5G therefore remains a rolling stone and regardless of the core network kit, security needs to be designed in, not bolted on, at every step of network and application design and build.

New rules for working

The pandemic has shaken up how we live and work. It has brought home the necessity for ultra-fast, affordable and agile communications everywhere. It’s also proved a fertile hunting ground for scammers keen to exploit the public’s thirst for up to the minute news. Click bait has been rife and it still forms one of the most effective ways to distribute malware and ransomware.

Unprotected VPNs have added to the risks, as companies scrambled to roll out remote access at mass scale. It overburdened their security infrastructure and created vulnerabilities all in the name of getting home working ramped up quickly. Some companies have learnt the hard way that maintaining patches on software and keeping on top of the security education their employees receive is vital to protect operations from attack.

Rural vs urban working

The move to home working has also brought to light discrepancies in speed and access to communications, reigniting the rural versus city investment debate.

We’ve seen some companies say that employees can now work anywhere, and others downsize their office footprints. This is opening the door for people to swap city living and commutes for more rural locations.

5G roll out plans typically focus on large cities and towns, but is this still the right strategy? I’d suggest that operators need to step back and look at the larger global trends and update their plans.

Connected cows and beyond

For example, farming and the environment has to be a planning priority now. To meet the needs of a predicted 9 billion people in 2050, farming supply will need to increase by 50%. COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus how precarious the global food supply chain is. In addition, this increase needs to be met with technology to make agriculture more efficient in order to preserve the world’s natural resources while meeting these goals.

COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus how precarious the global food supply chain is

The vision of the ‘connected cows’ is mooted as a way to solve global food security. As such, farming and the environment are set to gain greatly from technologies and applications enabled by 5G Internet of Things (IoT). But the benefits will only be realised if the connectivity and security is in place.

The vast network of IoT sensors that will be used to improve farming inefficiencies, increase welfare standards and reporting, as well as efficiently manage food manufacturing will generate an abundance of data.

Highly sensitive data

This data will range from highly sensitive sets related to pricing and employees, critical data related to yield management and compliance, to more transactional weather and water sensor data. Ensuring continuity will be essential to not just farming productivity and meeting standards, but also protecting IP or personal information throughout the supply chain and preventing a cyberwar intended to starve people.

Corporate espionage is a very real threat to manufacturing at the moment, and as farming becomes more connected, it’s expected this threat will extend as far as the farmyard. Not only that, protests against government handling of policies related to food poverty or overproduction could be done using ‘hacktivism’. It’s easy to buy a hack these days and start an online attack to make your point. So, as farming adopts technology models we usually see in the corporate world of pharma and finance, it too may become a target.

Healthcare goes truly national

The much talked of vision for the virtual GP accelerated in the pandemic, helping people see a GP without leaving the house.

Governments have had a very real glimpse into the importance of connected healthcare in terms of saving money and time. There is now a greater likelihood that nursing teams will be given mobile devices that can access and update patient records in real-time, GPs will scale down consultation space in favour of online appointments, and prescriptions will be automatically filled and delivered at the click of a button. Comprehensive 5G networks can help make more of this happen particularly in remote areas where health care is scarce, of that there is no doubt, and this is before we get into the exciting prospect of remote brain surgery that 5G can facilitate.

The pandemic also exposed the precarious nature of online healthcare

But the pandemic also exposed the precarious nature of online healthcare. Patient data remains a sitting duck, as illustrated perfectly by breaches we saw across the world both in public and private delivery. At its very worst, nation state attacks pose a significant threat to public health and it’s essential there is local and global collaboration to ensure data is protected.

This threat won’t wane. In fact, it is increasing as we drive more innovation and connectivity. Security experts have their work cut out. But it’s not impossible to achieve secure networks and applications, so long as we don’t put profit before people.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Michael O'Malley Vice President of Marketing, Radware

In case you missed it

Wire-free, mobile first and data rich? The future of access control is within almost anyone’s reach
Wire-free, mobile first and data rich? The future of access control is within almost anyone’s reach

The 2020s will be a wireless decade in access control, says Russell Wagstaff from ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions EMEA. He examines the trends data, and looks beyond mobile keys to brand new security roles for the smartphone. The benefits of wire-free electronic access control are well rehearsed. They are also more relevant than ever. A wireless solution gives facility managers deeper, more flexible control over who should have access, where and when, because installing, operating and integrating them is easier and less expensive than wiring more doors. Battery powered locks Many procurement teams are now aware of these cost advantages, but perhaps not their scale. Research for an ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions (AAOS) benchmarking exercise found installation stage to be the largest contributor to cost reduction. Comparing a typical installation of battery-powered Aperio locks versus wired locks at the same scale, the research projected an 80% saving in installers’ labour costs for customers who go cable-free. Battery powered locks all consume much less energy than traditional wired locks Operating costs are also lower for wireless: Battery powered locks all consume much less energy than traditional wired locks, which normally work via magnets connected permanently to electricity. Wireless locks only ‘wake up’ when presented with a credential for which they must make an access decision. AAOS estimated a 70% saving in energy use over a comparable lock’s lifetime. Find out more about wireless access control at ASSA ABLOY's upcoming 29th June webinar Deploying wireless locks In short, every time a business chooses a wireless lock rather than a wired door, they benefit from both installation and operating cost savings. A recent report from IFSEC Global, AAOS and Omdia reveals the extent to which the advantages of wireless are cutting through. Responses to a large survey of security professionals — end-users, installers, integrators and consultants serving large corporations and small- to medium-sized organisations in education, healthcare, industrial, commercial, infrastructure, retail, banking and other sectors — suggest almost four locations in ten (38%) have now deployed wireless locks as a part or the whole of their access solution. The corresponding data point from AAOS’s 2014 Report was 23%. Electronic access control Electronic access control is less dependent than ever on cabling Without doubt, electronic access control is less dependent than ever on cabling: Even after a year when many investments have been deferred or curtailed, the data reveals fast-growing adoption of wireless locks, technologies and systems. Is mobile access control — based on digital credentials or ‘virtual keys’ stored on a smartphone — an ideal security technology for this wire-free future? In fact, the same report finds mobile access is growing fast right now. Among those surveyed, 26% of end-users already offer mobile compatibility; 39% plan to roll out mobile access within two years. Before the mid-2020s, around two-thirds of access systems will employ the smartphone in some way. The smartphone is also convenient for gathering system insights Driving rapid adoption What is driving such rapid adoption? The convenience benefits for everyday users are obvious — witness the mobile boom in banking and payments, travel or event ticketing, transport, food delivery and countless more areas of modern life. Access control is a natural fit. If you have your phone, you are already carrying your keys: What could be easier? IBM forecasts that 1.87 billion people globally will be mobile workers by 2022 Less often discussed are the ways mobile management makes life easier for facility and security managers, too. Among those polled for the new Wireless Access Control Report, almost half (47%) agreed that ‘Mobile was more flexible than physical credentials, and 36% believe that mobile credentials make it easier to upgrade employee access rights at any time.’ IBM forecasts that 1.87 billion people globally will be mobile workers by 2022. Workers in every impacted sector require solutions which can get the job done from anywhere: Access management via smartphone offers this. Site management device The smartphone is also convenient for gathering system insights. For example, one new reporting and analytics tool for CLIQ key-based access control systems uses an app to collect, visualise and evaluate access data. Security system data could contribute to business success. The app’s clear, visual layout helps managers to instantly spot relevant trends, anomalies or patterns. It’s simple to export, to share insights across the business. Reinvented for learning — not just as a ‘key’ or site management device — the phone will help businesses make smarter, data-informed decisions. The smartphone will also play a major role in security — and everything else — for an exciting new generation of smart buildings. These buildings will derive their intelligence from interoperability. Over 90% of the report’s survey respondents highlighted the importance of integration across building functions including access control, CCTV, alarm and visitor management systems. Genuinely seamless integration They offer greater peace of mind than proprietary solutions which ‘lock you in’ for the long term Yet in practice, stumbling blocks remain on the road to deeper, genuinely seamless integration. More than a quarter of those polled felt held back by a lack of solutions developed to open standards. ‘Open standards are key for the momentum behind the shift towards system integration,’ notes the Report. As well as being more flexible, open solutions are better futureproofed. Shared standards ensure investments can be made today with confidence that hardware and firmware may be built on seamlessly in the future. They offer greater peace of mind than proprietary solutions which ‘lock you in’ for the long term. Open solutions and mobile management are critical to achieving the goals which end-users in every vertical are chasing: scalability, flexibility, sustainability, cost-efficiency and convenience.

What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?
What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Perimeter security is the first line of defence against intruders entering a business or premises. Traditionally associated with low-tech options such as fencing, the field of perimeter security has expanded in recent years and now encompasses a range of high-tech options. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world
Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world

With the continued rolling back of COVID restrictions in the UK, there is a palpable sense of relief. A mixture of mass vaccinations, widespread testing, and track and tracing of the infection is helping to enable a healthy bounce back for businesses – with secure access control taking an important role in facilitating this. However, rather than just being a reaction to the wake of the pandemic, there is every sign that the economy, and consequently the security sector as well, are both rebuilding and reshaping for the long-term new normal. Prioritising Safety Already deemed an essential service even during the first wave of the pandemic, the security industry has of course taken a vital role in protecting people and property throughout the crisis. Now that venues in the UK are starting to reopen again, our services are key to occupancy management and ensuring that disease transmission is limited as far as possible. Access control is also key in reassuring people that their safety is a priority. Making the upgrade It’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed with a few “tweaks”  Businesses and organisations have a duty of care to their employees and the safety of visitors – so controlling access, employing lateral flow testing, and deploying suitable Track & Trace mechanisms are all key components. I think those outside our industry are surprised to learn that most of the technology being deployed and used hasn’t just magically developed since COVID appeared – it’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed albeit with a few development “tweaks” or adjustments for the situation at hand. This includes using or installing facial recognition readers rather than using fingerprint or contact tokens, it is swapping to automatic request to exit sensors instead of buttons; it is using powered secure doors rather than having people all grab the same handle. Using mobile credentials is also a key technology choice – why not use the highly secure, easy to manage, cost-effective, and of course contact-free benefits of this approach? Touchless solutions We have seen a clear shift in organisations looking to protect their staff and visitors. For instance, we have a big utility customer in Southeast Asia that has just replaced close to 200 sites using fingerprint readers with an additional facial recognition capability. We have also seen a big rise in demand for touchless request to exit sensors and Bluetooth Low Energy Readers for use with smartphone authentication. Working together Integration of security systems is of course nothing new, but in the post-pandemic or endemic age, it has perhaps never been more important. Installations need to be simple, straightforward, and rapid to help maintain safe distancing but also to ensure systems can be deployed as soon as they are needed. The world is changing and developing rapidly and there is simply no place for systems that don’t work with others or cause the end-user considerable cost and inconvenience to upgrade. This flexible delivery of security solutions perfectly matches the evolving and increasing demands of the market. It’s clear that end-users want systems that work well and can easily integrate with their existing systems – not only security but all the other business components which work in unison with each other over a shared network. Great opportunities ahead The recent work-from-home trend is also clearly changing the way organisations and businesses interact with the built environment. Lots of companies are downsizing, offices are being split up, there is lots of revitalisation and reuse of existing office space – all of which creates considerable opportunities for security providers. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value There are also, in the UK at least, clear signs that the construction industry is rapidly growing again -with a forecast of 8% rebound and growth this year. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value – all positive signs for UK-based security providers. Undoubtedly the highly successful UK vaccination rollout has helped considerably, but there are signs that the Eurozone looks set to improve considerably over the next few months as well. Using integrated access control Undoubtedly the pandemic has made security markets around the world more aware of the benefits of integrated access control in managing the needs of the new normal COVID endemic environment. For example, as a business, we have always had keen interest from the UK healthcare sector, but over the last 12 months, we have seen a big growth in previously modest international markets including Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand – all of which are very keen to adopt improved access control solutions. Learning the lessons Nobody would deny the last year or so has been unprecedentedly tough on everyone, as a society we have had to make huge changes and sacrifices. Governments, organisations, and businesses all need to be better prepared in the future, to understand the things that went wrong and those that were successful. However, there is a world beyond the immediate pandemic and its effects. Flexible working practices and the changes these will have to the way we live and work will undoubtedly present great opportunities for the security sector in helping the world evolve. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for many organisations with regards to their duty of care to employees – particularly when it comes to mental health and providing a sensible work/life balance. Where we work and the safety of these facilities has received far more scrutiny than before. Flexible security systems Integrated security solutions have a vital role to play in not only protecting the safety of people during the post-lockdown return to work but also in the evolution of the built environment and move towards smart cities - which inevitably will now need to consider greater flexibility in securing home working spaces rather than just traditional places of work. Importantly, powerful access control and integrated security systems need to be flexible to the uncertainties ahead. The COVID pandemic has shown that nothing can be considered certain, except the need for greater flexibility and resilience in the way we operate our professional and personal interactions.