Vulnerability to cyber attacks “poses biggest risk to businesses adopting 5G in UK”

UK businesses are most concerned about the susceptibility of 5G to cyber attacks according to EY’s latest Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) research. 40% of respondents are worried about 5G and cyber attacks while a similar percentage (37%) are cautious over the security of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

The survey also finds that, while 5G investment is set to catch-up with IoT spend over the next two years, doubts surround its readiness and relevance. Just over one third of respondents fear that 5G is too immature, while 32% believe it lacks relevance to overall technology and business strategy.

The survey of 200 UK businesses looked at attitudes towards the adoption of 5G and IoT technology as well as organisations’ expectations from tech suppliers.

Adrian Baschnonga, global lead telecommunications analyst at EY, commented: “It’s not surprising that businesses are most concerned with the threat of cyber attacks. The introduction of 5G will help organisations unlock new growth opportunities, but this transition comes at a time when fears regarding data breaches and network security are especially pronounced.”

Baschnonga continued: “Our survey also shows that 5G has an image problem. The challenge for technology and service providers is to position 5G as much more than just a faster mobile connection, and instead as a driver of strategic change and a critical enabler for a variety of new services.”

Businesses positive about adopting 5G and IoT

Despite security concerns, 50% of businesses surveyed are planning to invest in 5G technology over the next two years and an additional 9% are currently investing. In comparison, nearly a third of those businesses surveyed (27%) have already adopted IoT technology, while 33% are planning to do so over the next two years. This is encouraging for both 5G and the IoT with over half either investing or planning to invest.

Baschnonga observed: “It’s important that businesses stay ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new technology. It’s encouraging to see strong spending intentions, especially so for 5G given that it’s not yet commercially available. Despite this, tech providers should bear in mind that three-in-ten organisations are only monitoring these technologies, and a further minority don’t actually believe these technologies are relevant to them. Converting these enterprises into IoT and 5G investors should be a focus for TMT providers if they’re to maximise their addressable market in the medium-term.”

Enterprises seek more from suppliers

Overall, it was felt that suppliers need to do more to maximise the potential of 5G and IoT. Two-thirds (67%) of businesses said that suppliers needed to articulate a more coherent vision of both technologies in order for them to build a robust investment case.

At the same time, 31% of those surveyed view Best in Class industry expertise as a factor informing their supplier strategy over the next two years. On the whole, enterprises are seeking a new kind of relationship dynamic, with 70% agreeing that they’ll prioritise companies that can deliver business outcomes as partners ahead of pure cost or technology benefits.

Listen to business concerns

Praveen Shankar, EY’s head of technology, media and telecommunications for the UK and Ireland, said: “5G is much more than just a ‘plain vanilla’ upgrade in speed, capacity and latency. It represents a huge opportunity for TMT providers to tap into new demand scenarios and build stronger relationships with their customers.”

Shankar went on to state: “Telecommunications and technology companies need to move beyond the supplier mindset to more of a partnership. TMT providers therefore need to focus on explaining the business benefits of 5G and engage in consultative dialogue that positions 5G within the broader context of enterprise transformation. Finally, TMT suppliers must be ready with robust solutions that convert business potential into operational strength.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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