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5G and cybersecurity: New tech, new problems

Paul Bradley, Gemalto’s 5G strategy and partnerships director, discusses 5G’s security implications and the current cybersecurity landscape with Sam Fenwick

Paul Bradley has an incredibly wide-ranging role – he has to keep up to date with the latest thinking around 5G, spot market trends 3-5 years out, and identify gaps in Gemalto’s range so that its teams can pursue the best mobile digital security initiatives. At the same time, he educates the company’s teams about 5G and motivates them to deliver its strategy. Naturally, his role involves a great deal of talking – especially with MNOs, over-the-top players and mobile infrastructure providers – and it shows. Concepts, industry jargon and opinions cascade from his lips in a rushing stream. His Irish accent shows little trace of a three-year stint in Texas or of his current posting in La Ciotat, France, which began in April 2013 (although he has been in his current role since January 2016).

One of Bradley’s main concerns is the security implications created by the shift to network function virtualisation (NFV) – the replacement of dedicated hardware within cellular networks with virtual machines running on generic/mass-markets servers to allow network operators to reduce their costs and speed up new services. “You can trust hardware because it’s physical. Tomorrow, when it’s replaced with software, you need to be able to trust that software hasn’t been manipulated or modified since it’s been installed and, if you do an update, you need to know it’s coming from the right entity. It becomes a challenging environment to secure.”

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