We live in an era of ever-increasing automation and connectivity. As technology advances, more and more everyday items are becoming equipped with cloud-dependent functionality, requiring access to the internet to extract their full potential. This increasingly includes wearable items that monitor our health and fitness, entertainment products, vehicles, and even home climate control systems.
With the advent of 5G, and in time, 6G, the range of internet-dependent items, and the scale of their dependence, will only increase, until, in time, living a normal life without constant and high-speed connections to the internet will be almost impossible, particularly for business and the wider economy.
With a higher level of dependence inevitably comes a higher level of risk. As an information transportation system, the security of the Irish communications system will assume an importance greater or equal to that of the existing transportation network. It will become our most vital piece of national infrastructure – something we depend on for food preservation, basic economic transactions, as well as heating, and lighting.
Unlike the transportation system we have today, the future of 5G with its use of sensors and intelligent IoT means that the communications systems of the future will be uniquely vulnerable, and reachable by any single actor with a laptop located anywhere on the planet. A single bad actor with the capability to exploit a vulnerability could potentially shut down the electricity grid, or spoil preserved food by turning off refrigeration systems. Threats could come from individuals with a grudge or nation-state actors pursuing their own interests. The world is already in a cyber cold war, with several rogue nations aggressively pursuing IP-theft and sabotage as part of their arsenal.
Cyber security therefore is the most important national security priority of the next century. The ability to identify threats to, and vulnerabilities in, the communications system, is the most essential skill that our national security authorities will require.
In our submission we have made 44 recommendations, answering nine of the ten questions posed by the Dept of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. Rivada Networks strongly encourages a review of the policy of multi-agency responsibility for cyber security and recommends the establishment of a robust centralised national cyber security agency.
A summary list of the recommendations can be found here.