5G networks are becoming a reality, bringing with them lower latencies and blazing connectivity that promise to transform the way people live, work and play.
But for all the benefits 5G brings, improved cybersecurity is not one of them. On the contrary, for those building 5G networks and the applications that can operate them, cybersecurity has been more an afterthought than anything else.
“5G has really just passed on the same issues that prevailed with 4G networks, so they’re not sure,” said Sem Ponnambalam, president and co-founder of cybersecurity provider Xahive, in an interview with PYMNTS. “Over 95% of the 5G applications that have been developed are not cyber-secure, so this is a huge problem. “
The problem with app developers is that they are forced to be reactive rather than proactive. Cyber security is and always has been a cat-and-mouse game, with attackers finding a vulnerability and rushing to exploit it before the victim company can move to plug that hole, only for attackers to move on to another bug or exploit.
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Ponnambalam said the developers will likely play catch-up forever.
“Unfortunately, cybercriminals and state actors are always way ahead of what an average business does and produces,” she said.
Cybercriminals also appear to be getting smarter, said Alastair Paterson, CEO and founder of Digital Shadows. He explained that one of the most popular tactics they employ nowadays is to create bogus apps that look like official apps created by popular brands, mainly to try to convince people to give up their personal data. .
“Outside of the major app stores, there are hundreds of smaller app stores where we’ve seen impersonation apps increase,” he said. “Unfortunately, consumers download them and these apps mislead them, grab their data and attack it in other ways. So, it’s not just the official apps, but the unofficial apps that we are worried about.
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Paterson recalled that one of the clients of his company, a popular UK-based coffeehouse chain, came across a bogus app that targeted his customers. The app, which copied its logo perfectly, looked very neat and seemed official in every way, offered customers free coffee in cafes. All they had to do to receive a voucher was to fill out some personal information in a form, including their Facebook ID.
“Then all these people started going to their stores and said, ‘Hey, where’s my free coffee? ”Paterson said. “It was the first time they knew about it.”
Another popular cybercrime tactic that continues to grab the headlines is ransomware, and while people are increasingly aware of it, it’s not something we’re any closer to solving.
“It’s not going to go away,” Paterson said. “If you look at the amount of money some of these groups have made, they’re probably better funded than the security teams trying to defend against them. There really isn’t a quick fix for this either, so I can only see it increase. “
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With bad players being as rich and smart as they are, it is essential for good players, like Xahive and Digital Shadows, to establish themselves in a market that not only has access to a substantial customer base, but also the talent that it needs. ‘they must be able to fight them. The two companies eventually settled in London, a place that has quickly become a hotbed for tech startups over the past decade.
Paterson said London is a great place for a startup, not only because it is home to a lot of skilled workers, but also because of the funding environment, which he says is often much cheaper than the London region. San Francisco Bay in terms of costs.
“You have a large customer base to target in the city itself, and if you’re looking for, say, a customer success person who speaks German, you can probably find one in London,” Paterson said. “There aren’t many places in the world where you can hire a lot of different people from different cultures and backgrounds with different languages and skills, not to the same extent. So London is really a fantastic launching pad for us in other regions.
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Xahive started life in Canada before moving to the United States, but when the time came for the company to establish a European presence, Ponnambalam said there was only one option.
“London made sense to us because in terms of national security the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are all working together,” she said. “We’re really interested in expanding into Europe, so London was really the natural fit. “