Interview: John Maddison, Executive Vice-President, Products & Solutions, Fortinet

Written by

The latest evolution in mobile cellular mobile communications in the move from 4G to 5G mobile networks.

Targeting high data rates, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity and large device connectivity, 5G is considered the next big step in mobile performance, succeeding the previous network generations of 2G, 3G and 4G.

Set to launch this year, 5G is likely to transform the mobile data landscape, and Infosecurity spoke with John Maddison, executive vice-president, products and solutions at Fortinet, to get his take on just how much of an impact the technology will have.

How will the evolution from 4G to 5G mobile networks impact the digital world? How are 4G networks transforming to support 4.5G and then 5G?

Right now, most organizations see their networks as a sort of ‘hub and spoke’ configuration. In the middle is the core network and data center, which then reaches out to the cloud, branch offices and mobile workers when needed. 5G, when fully deployed, has the potential to completely upend how we build and use networks.

The feature most people have focused on is the unprecedented speeds that a 5G network can operate at. This means that users will be able to access more rich media and latency-sensitive services than ever. However, that also means that much of the existing mobile core network will need to be upgraded to support new SLA requirements. It also means that networks and data will need to move to the edge so that the performance advantages of 5G aren’t minimized due to having to continually make round trips back to a central database.

The resulting hyperconnected edge network will also require us to rethink security. To be effective, security not only has to be end-to-end, from the core to the edge, it will need high-performance to deliver functionality, rapid scalability, deep visibility and granular control to secure mobile core, edge clouds and IoT infrastructures.

What work has Fortinet been doing to secure mobile networks, with a particular focus on moving from 4G to 5G?

We have already announced that our security solutions are 5G-ready. We have also always had high performance physical security devices on the market due to our years of developing purpose-built security processors (SPU), but we have also developed new VNFs which deliver significant increases in application security performance and provide security functions for hybrid and virtual mobile infrastructures.

We have been watching the development of 5G for years, and have invested significant engineering resources into ensuring that our customers – from enterprises to service providers and carriers – will be able to seamlessly transition to 5G without compromising or waiting for security to catch up.

What possible security risks/challenges will the move from 4G to 5G mobile networks bring?

The most significant risk facing 5G is the availability and readiness of security. When the cloud first arrived on the scene, security was a top concern of business leaders. Likewise, poor performance and inadequate support for new 5G protocols will either expose its highly meshed edge networks to new security risks or delay its adoption. A severe breach targeting early adopters who don’t have appropriate security in place could have a serious impact on a digital economy that is already depending on the availability of new 5G devices and services.

What’s hot on Infosecurity Magazine?