Worcestershire 5G Testbed to focus on security by design

6 September 2018

5G cybersecurity

5G cybersecurity will be one of the key focus areas for the Worcestershire 5G Testbed, QinetiQ has revealed.

QinetiQ is one of the participants in the Worcestershire 5G Consortium and will focus on driving ‘security by design’ in 5G networks, as well as related IoT (Internet of Things) technologies and applications.

Security by design means networks, software and apps are designed with security built in from their foundations, along with the flexibility to adapt to shifting threats. This is in contrast to approaches which see cybersecurity retrofitted or only considered in response to incidents.

This will be particularly crucial in scenarios involving critical data and operations, such as in Industrial IoT applications. Collaborative approaches, such as those facilitated by the UK Government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, will be key to making security by design a reality.

Balancing risk

In a blog post on the QinetiQ website, Mark Hawkins, QinetiQ technical lead for the 5G Testbed, notes that to capitalise on the productivity gains which 5G is set to unlock, companies will need to shift their data and operations from the corporate network to mobile networks, and this potentially increases risk. For example, down-time at smart factories will be very costly and hacks could be dangerous in the context of autonomous vehicles or connected critical infrastructure.

“Therefore the security focus has shifted to the mobile network, where previously this was not a primary consideration,” Hawkins says.

The approach in Worcester will be around balancing benefits with risks, and evaluating businesses’ and user’s appetite for risk, ensuring that security measures don’t cancel out productivity gains.

Bosch and Mazak are also members of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium, which will allow QinetiQ to collect real Industrial IoT business requirements and input, and to gain feedback based on trials.

“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,” Hawkins said.

UK 5G Testbeds and Trials

The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership Grant, the lead organisation in the Worcestershire 5G Consortium, was awarded £4.8 million in March this year to trial 5G. In the same funding round, five other organisations also received the go-ahead for 5G Testbeds in the UK.

The UK 5G Testbeds and Trials programme is managed by the government’s UK5G innovation network.

Robotics, big data analytics and augmented reality over 5G are also key focus areas for the Worcestershire Testbed, which is based at Malvern Hills Science Park.

Useful read: What is 5G?

Technical Writer at 5G.co.uk

Sarah Wray is a technical writer with over 10 years' experience writing about technology, including telecoms, smart cities, data, IoT, aerospace, and more.

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