Federal agencies can balance the risks and benefits of 5G
Industry Perspective: Federal Agencies Can Balance the Risks and Benefits of 5G
US Customs and Border Protection is the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, with more than 60,000 employees. Some 20,000 of these employees are border patrol officers, responsible for thousands of miles of US borders with Canada and Mexico, the US coasts and more than 300 ports.
It’s a big job, to say the least. The one officers must perform while chronically understaffed, officials say. But what if technology could help fill staffing shortages with “smart borders”, high-speed data processing and advanced computing?
The federal government is on the cusp of a 5G-driven transformation that, while aligned with broader modernization efforts, could fundamentally change operations on the periphery. And that advantage could be a US port or border, a battlefield, a disaster area, or inspection locations across the country. Regardless of location, 5G’s ability to move data and communications faster is a game-changer – and in some cases, a lifeline.
Real-time visibility and real-time control of a remote system, such as drones that enhance border security or automated capabilities that speed up healthcare services, can provide agencies with capabilities that previously required humans on site. place, making decisions with relatively limited information. With high-speed connectivity, sensor data can accelerate operational agility and decision-making. This worsens the efficiency of government field operators, improving situational awareness and reducing delays and bottlenecks that accumulate in a context of poor or no connectivity.
More data, from video feeds and other sources, will create even greater demand on the agency’s networks. It’s a challenge that CBP leadership alluded to in its 2021-2026 strategy, which outlines broader plans to increase situational awareness, integrate and analyze interagency data, and invest in tactical and operational mobility.
“We want to increase our position in mobility, take advantage of 5G for edge devices that rely on wireless connectivity, [and get] real-time data to our field agents. Our strategy is to shift most of this computing power to the device itself, ”said Christopher Wurst, CBP’s executive director for enterprise networks and technology support, at a recent event. “What we can do to move some of this data processing to the edge is definitely in our roadmap. “
But amid heightened supply chain concerns and high-profile cyber attacks, advanced computing and 5G present new vulnerabilities and potential threats.
5G technology “represents a complete transformation of telecommunications networks, introducing a vast array of new connections, capabilities and services,” wrote officials from the National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security. Agency in a press release. recent joint threat analysis. “However, these developments also introduce significant risks that threaten national security, economic security and impact other national and global interests. Given these threats, 5G networks will be an attractive target for criminals and foreign adversaries to exploit to gain valuable information and intelligence. “
A thriving Internet of Things undoubtedly looks like a gold mine in the eyes of a malicious actor. But the potential dangers are no reason to pass up opportunities to leverage power by integrating and leveraging better communications, sensor data, intelligence, and a myriad of other advancements. It would be like never crossing a street because a car might come.
While we can’t give up the technological advantage and resulting societal benefits just because there may be dangers, neither can we blindly jump into 5G. Agencies using this capability should do so with a full understanding of the potential dangers based on a thorough risk-benefit analysis. Armed with a risk management approach and a holistic security stance, agencies can leverage 5G to accelerate and amplify a range of critical missions.
This security position can vary by department and mission, but effective strategies include tailored applications and policies, appropriate security controls, adequate tools and training, and effective standards that establish a foundation. From there, agencies can run under an agile framework using scalable solutions – adapting to changing risk tolerance, emerging tools and technologies, changing threats, and other factors. Layered security cloth may not be impenetrable, but it makes it much more difficult for the opponent.
Just like you can’t take aspirin until you know you’ll have a headache, you can’t eradicate all threats before moving forward. Amid the continued advancements of 5G, protection capabilities will also advance. This is where public-private partnerships will be particularly critical in getting things done on capabilities and services that could revolutionize government operations.
5G will allow the United States to confidently deploy advanced tools such as automation and remote capabilities. In turn, the data gleaned during these deployments will help advance and further refine the tools in the national arsenal. When combined with industry partnerships, this continuous improvement process can extend both in breadth and depth – improving the detection and response to abnormalities in human health or human health more effectively and efficiently. the health of networks, geopolitics or geological events, technological systems or countless other types of systems.
In a landscape that continues to grow, partnerships that mutually benefit from cooperative research, development, innovation, acceleration and deployment will maximize the impact of 5G across all sectors. From national security to critical infrastructure, agriculture, technology, healthcare and many middle ground, we all benefit from these burgeoning capabilities. Whether it is the public sector, the private sector or the private citizen, we all have our skin in this game.
Felipe Fernandez is Director of Systems Engineering at Fortinet Federal. He previously served for over a decade as a cybersecurity engineer for the US Marine Corps.
The subjects: Battlefield communications