5G: The Key to Secure IoT and Industry 4.0

5G: The Key to Secure IoT and Industry 4.0

Gone are the days when we had to speculate on the potential of the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 to gauge an idea of how these technologies could augment humans in the future.

With the latest technologies arriving in the form of the data and tech revolution coming in, both IoT and Industry 4.0 lie in front of us. Their potential is hidden from none, and analysts can barely stop being excited for the market and the way it will revolutionize soon.

However, with the breakneck pace at which growth is happening, it is imperative that stakeholders realize the importance of predicting and managing threats. As has been the case with all major innovations or technologies, the move towards IoT and Industry 4.0 will also be hindered by threats and challenges that will act as possible roadblocks. But, through proper planning and analysis of the issue, we can reach a consensus on the due course of action.

As a partner for Ericsson, I have had the opportunity to work with market leaders and get a sneak peek into Ericson’s 5G, the much-coveted solution for the security challenges of IoT and Industry 4.0. We all know how troublesome security will be for organizations in the near future, which is why a secure ecosystem is the first need of the hour for all concerned organizations.

Working with Ericsson on their 5G project, I have a basic preview of how the 5G system can assist IoT and Industrial 4.0 to become securer and more beneficial. I also have the privilege of inviting you to attend a digital event where an executive panel of operators, industry leaders, and security experts will have a live debate about whether 5G is the key to secure IoT and Industry 4.0. Register for free here.

Market Details

Talks of security have to start with an estimate of the market size, and what the market for Industry 4.0 and IoT completely comprises of. It is expected that the size of the market for IoT devices across the globe will jump from the decent 7 billion it was in 2017 to over 20 billion connected devices by 2023. This massive growth is to be achieved through the provision of IoT devices and the growing belief that IoT will be everywhere around us soon.

With everything going online and Industry 4.0 leading that change, there is a growing threat of security in the market. All organizational documents and information that were previously housed inside stubborn racks and cupboards in physically guarded locations are being moved online. Legacy systems are being replaced, and organizations are making the shift to the cloud. This method, while increasing efficiency, is currently prone to attacks from cybercriminals that can corrupt your data at any time. Hence, attackers can now lead and manage attacks of data infringement without even visiting your private premises.

While organizations do want to stack up their security as well for advanced data protection, they’ll have to limit themselves to non-uniform network level security. Non-uniformity in network level security will be seen as the newer technologies will probably be meshed up with the current automated and non-automated systems. This will lead to gaps between the security layer that can make your data prone to attacks.



IoT and Industry 4.0 are generally complex and difficult to comment on now, but they will surely bring in new risk factors in the market. Security needs to be upped and improved so that it covers the sudden inflow of new cases different to the ones you managed previously.

With newer technologies in the market, there is always the risk of the unknown happening. As analysts are not sure how to protect these new layers of technology, they won’t be able to implement foolproof measures from the word “go” and will have to learn from experience.

Then there will also be a growth in the number of unconnected devices that are connected to one server. The risk of attacks spreading through these connected devices is one threat that will have to be mitigated. Even if one connected device comes under an attack of sorts, it will lead a passage for hackers to reach critical business processes and systems. An attack on the efficiency and the management of a critical business process can destroy the brand’s repo and goodwill.


While there are certain general implications in security, it is knowledge pertaining to the specific threats that will educate you about the next course of action. Organizations are unaware of the kinds of threats they can face with the implementation of IoT and Industry 4.0 in their systems.

Based on insights from market leaders, the following threats will hallmark the implications of these technologies:

  • Spying or data theft: Where data pertaining to customers, team performance and production is stolen or corrupted.
  • Disruption to Service Attacks: Attacks like DDOS make it hard for businesses to manage their core services.
  • Complete Service Take-Over: Doomsday scenario.


The consequences coming from these threats are far-reaching and many. To start off with, there is the risk of losing sensitive company data that you would want to have under your control at all times. Then, with the negative connotations associated with the loss of data, there will be a lot of brand damage that can haunt you for a long time to come.

Additionally, if these threats or security implications end up affecting your core service or production, you’ll end up with a downtime that you won’t be able to afford. Most businesses run without space for errors in production or efficiency, hence they have a tight schedule that will be at risk of disruption in the case of such security attacks.

The downtime suffered due to these attacks can ultimately also affect your ability to generate profits and revenue. A business would ideally want to be minting notes throughout the calendar year without any roadblocks in productivity. However, if this ideal scenario is not reached because of a security implication, there’ll be a major loss of revenue.

Finally, if you’re a service provider that works on retaining customers through an uninterrupted brand of service, you wouldn’t really want your services to go down easily. Hence, the lack of security can lose you customers and lead to a bad reputation.

Role of AI

While nothing can overtake 5G in ensuring security, AI is also a game changer in this regard. Just as it has done in many other industries, artificial intelligence promises a lot of benefits in enhancing security as well. With the extensive machine learning, data collection and analysis tools it has, AI can overlook network behaviour to predict just when an attack is happening or could happen.

Incoming connection attempts can be detected and then taken care of with a prompt response. This method of detection by AI creates a strong case for horizontal security management in your firm, as it enables the correlation of information coming from different domains.

5G Security

It is clear that the complexity and scale of IoT demands a holistic perspective and we can’t rely on scattered point solutions which don’t interoperate. The properties of telco networks are built as secure systems, with highly secure, interoperable components; they are built for high scale number of devices and offer proven security for example encryption for signalling & data privacy & integrity – and this is all delivered according to globally recognized industry standards.

These standards have been in place for many years (i.e. 2G, 3G and with 4G) and 5G enhances the security proposition even further when it comes to resilience, communication security, identity management, privacy and security assurance. (read whitepaper)

Use Cases for 5G

5G is about to enter the market, and there are plenty of useful cases for it. Some of these include:

  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband: 5G enhances mobile broadband through the use of non-SIM devices and by supporting AR and VR in mobile phones.
  • Massive Machine Communication: 5G can help in supporting communication between machines, examples of which can be found in smart buildings and smart meters.
  • Critical Machine Communication: Additionally, 5G can assist with the flow of critical communication between firms, especially useful for traffic control and supply and procurement.

Is 5G the key for securing the future of IoT and Industry 4.0?

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