Following the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation’s (Europol) 2018 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) report, in which the law enforcement agency stated that the upcoming 5G mobile networks coupled with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will make it difficult to track cyber criminals,
Gary Barton, Technology Analyst at leading data and analytics company GlobalData, offers his insight on why governments and regulators should consider how criminals may use 5G connectivity:
“Much of the debate surrounding 5G has focused on whether the average mobile phone user really needs 5G speeds. However, one aspect of 5G that has not received much attention is how it will be seized upon by the murkier side of the global population. Cyber-crime is a raging battle front and perhaps, before 5G becomes widely available, governments and regulators should consider how criminals may use the technology.
“The 2018 IOCTA report noted that ‘5G technology will inhibit attribution and lawful intercept’ of criminals. The primary reason for this is that the underlying virtualization technology needed to deal with the complexity and bandwidth of 5G makes it much harder to identify and locate individual users. 4G technology gives each user a unique identifier. Conversely, 5G technology only allocates temporary identifiers.
“Artificial intelligence offers a potential way for the police and security services to overcome this challenge. However, this technology will take time to develop and the GDPR laws designed to protect individual privacy mean that the data bases required to support these processes may themselves be illegal.
“On the plus side, there will be a direct security benefits from 5G. Companies and public sector bodies will have more options for encrypting data, making any potential breaches less likely and less damaging. The Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that use 5G will also support improvements to other aspects of security such as CCTV and object tracking (e.g., stolen phones/laptops).
“New technologies always bring new challenges and the battle against cyber-crime and organized crime creates dilemmas for governments and populations. In the UK, the proposed ‘Snoopers Charter’ (the Draft Communications Data Bill) drew much public criticism and was dropped. The Investigatory Powers Act that subsequently passed through the UK Parliament only gained the backing of a majority of British MPs after concessions to privacy were made. But too much data protection also has its consequences. It may be that the EU (and, after Brexit, the UK) will need to consider revisions to GDPR once 5G goes live across Europe.”