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Are we ready for 5G and the attacks it will entice?

According to Gartner, two thirds of organisations are planning to deploy 5G by 2020; and in five years’ time Ericsson predicts that there will be 1.5billion IoT devices connected to 5G.

With promises of faster speeds, better bandwidth and new opportunities splashing the headlines, it’s easy to get excited. But – and there’s always a but – I question whether we’re ready for 5G.

For enterprises the rise of 5G and the IoT means more network endpoints – and in turn, more openings for hackers to attack. And with everything becoming connected, the scale of these attacks could be devastating.

Worryingly, a recent report from IT company, Proband, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK workers, has revealed that 44% of businesses are failing to protect their client and employee data due to inadequate server security.

The company highlights the need for concern with the comparison between how many rainy days the UK sees with the number of cyber breaches among UK businesses. Guess which one is more common. Yup, cyberattacks – with 43% of UK businesses having suffered a breach in the last year alone.

The data also revealed that 1 in 3 of the workers they questioned said they do not believe they have important information stored on their server, pointing to an alarming naivety among some employees.

Bizarrely however, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, latest findings somewhat contradict these results.

The statistics from the DCMS, in fact, shows a 9% reduction of businesses suffering a cyberattack or breach in the last year, with only 32% identifying an attack in the last 12 months.

It believes this reduction can be owed to the introduction of tough new data laws under the Data Protection Act and the GDPR, pointing out that 30% of businesses and 36% of charities have made changes to their cyber policies and processes as a result of GDPR.

Although, despite this somewhat hopeful result, the report does also highlight some negatives: of the businesses which did suffer attacks, the number of attacks/breaches of which they suffered has risen. In other words, hackers are becoming more persistent.

The figures published by DCMS show that 48% of businesses and 39% of charities who were attacked or breached, identified at least one attempt every month. What's more it also revealed that the average cost of a cyberattack on a business have risen to more than £4,000.

The DCMS does agree with Proband about a lack of understanding among workers however, with the Digital Minister, Margot James, saying that despite these "encouraging" results, there is "still a long way to go", as less than 3 in 10 companies (of those identified in the report) have trained their staff to deal with cyber threats.

Who knows which results are more accurate – and it does worry me that there is such disparity. But what I think we can all agree on is that the number of attacks are increasing, and they will continue to increase as we become more connected. So whether you’re a business armed and ready or one of those without a clue, the preventative steps you’re taking now will have to take a step up. So train your staff and be prepared.

Bethan Grylls

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