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How 5G Security By Design will deliver productivity gains and new services for businesses


Mark Hawkins - QinetiQ technical lead for the 5G Testbed, and QinetiQ Fellow

5G is a critical solution for unlocking productivity gains within industry. Businesses are rightly concerned about the security of 5G networks and applications, but at QinetiQ we also see the game-changing benefit that the solution can offer.

5G Security image depicting wireless connection between city buildings

We are, therefore, working closely with businesses, leveraging our world-class expertise to help them to mitigate the risks in a balanced way so they can realise the huge productivity benefits which 5G promises to bring to them and the wider economy.

The consumer mobile market is saturated – most of us own at least one mobile device – so in order to drive future revenues, the telecoms industry is targeting 5G primarily at enterprise and industry ‘verticals’ such as manufacturing, transport and retail. The real prize of 5G, for these enterprise and industry ‘verticals’, are productivity gains - for example by better optimisation of industrial processes enabled Internet of Things (IoT) sensors - as well as the development of new services such as augmented reality, and connected autonomous cars.

QinetiQ is a key player in the Worcestershire 5G Consortium and, working closely with our advanced manufacturing partners, Bosch and Mazak, we are using the Worcestershire 5G Testbed as a platform on which to demonstrate the potential productivity gains for industry.

To realise these productivity benefits organisations will need to migrate their business critical data and operations from the corporate network to the mobile network. This introduces risk: if there is a problem with the mobile network it is inconvenient if you cannot make a phone call, it is extremely costly if your factory cannot operate, and extremely dangerous if your autonomous car gets hacked. Therefore the security focus has shifted to the mobile network, where previously this was not a primary consideration.

Security is all about balancing the risk against the benefits provided, and doing this from an end-to-end perspective. Moreover it is about considering this upfront and in the context of the risk appetite of the enterprise or industry user. With this in mind QinetiQ is bringing a Security By Design approach to the Worcestershire 5G Testbed.  This is all about considering security during design decisions in a balanced way, which allows the benefits to be realised. This is in contrast to the traditional approach, when security is usually considered as a bolt-on at the end, or even worse only when something goes wrong.

The higher security requirement from enterprise and industry, compared to consumers means there is a need for them to be assured of the level of security provided, both by the 5G network itself, but more importantly by the applications and services running over the top of it. These are exactly the services which QinetiQ is developing as part of the Worcestershire 5G project.

Being involved in the Worcestershire 5G Consortium gives us two real advantages in developing our 5G security services: it gives us a world-class 5G network right here on our site in Great Malvern, and it gives us a great team of world-class companies with which to work. With Bosch and Mazak in the Consortium we can not only develop testing approaches based on their requirements, but actually try them out on the industrial Internet of Things use cases they are developing. With the Worcestershire 5G Testbed network we aim to assess the potential trade-off between performance and security, and how this may impact the business performance requirements for the specific use cases.

To find out more and discuss how we could enable your organisation to achieve the commercial advantages of a secure 5G solution, contact our 5G Business Development team.

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To find out more and discuss how we could enable your organisation to achieve the commercial advantages of a secure 5G solution, contact our 5G Business Development team.