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Security is key to 5G

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According to SHERRY ZAMEER of Gemalto, if we don’t build robust security into our 5G networks, we will miss the big opportunity this technology offers us.

The current expectation is that the first commercial 5G networks will be rolled out in 2020, just two years away. The early adopters will naturally be those countries whose 4G networks are already in place, but there is no doubt that African players are already busy laying the foundations for their future 5G plays.

“It is clear that 5G has huge potential to unlock all sorts of new solutions, especially as an enabler for the Internet of Things, but all the behind-the-scenes preparatory work will be wasted if security is not prioritised,” says Sherry Zameer, Senior VP IOT in CISMEA region at Gemalto. “5G has the potential to transform the use case for mobility dramatically, but it will require innovative and robust security solutions to be in place.”

Big operators in Africa will be gearing up to demonstrate the performance jump 5G offers: download speeds of 20 gigabits per second meaning that there is very little delay between transmission and reception of a signal. This “immediate” response to commands is essential for many futuristic applications; driverless cars, for example, need split-second responses, as do critical health care and industrial applications.

Sherry Zameer says that Gemalto is deeply engaged in helping develop security standards, primarily interacting with industry organisations like the GSMA (which represents the interests of mobile operators) and NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks).

As one might expect, many of the characteristics that make 5G so attractive create some of these critical security vulnerabilities:

5G will be critical for the Internet of Things.

5G’s speed and latency alone will make it a key platform for the expanding Internet of Things. Also, it will enable virtualised network infrastructures designed for specific uses. The result will be a mix of open-source and proprietary software and hardware on the network. This will mean that traditional mobile networks built on hardware/ software combinations provided by trusted vendors will become much more heterogeneous—and will provide a greater attack surface than current cellular networks.

5G will enable a much more flexible use of “edge” resources to take load off the core network. The caching of local content will change the way that data and cellular communications are stored—and secured.

The nature of the threat will change.

As more and more devices come onto the 5G network, mobile networks’ traditional focus on preventing eavesdropping will be supplanted by a need to protect against data manipulation and similar types of attack. Such attacks could be used to instruct a machine to perform an unwanted action, like opening a factory gate to robbers, taking control of an autonomous vehicle or disabling warning systems.

A complicating factor will be that many of the devices connected to the network will not be able to encrypt communications, the traditional first line of network defence. Another issue will be the sheer volume of machine-to-machine communication—maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of this data will be no sinecure.

This complex threat landscape will mean that both network operators and the manufacturers of consumer electronics will have the opportunity to provide security as a service. These offerings would be graded to the level of threat to the particular data stream, and its importance.

“Africa is pre-eminently mobile when it comes to communications technologies and the Internet. 5G thus has a potentially important role to play as the continent seeks to establish itself as a player in the global economy,” Sherry concludes. “We must not fall into the trap of just seeing it as a technical and financing challenge: if we don’t build robust security into our 5G networks, we will miss the big opportunity this technology offers us.”

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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