The newest cellular standard, 5G, is rolling out across the world and promises big improvements in speed and reliability. Unknown to most people, in large public areas like hotels, shopping centers, and airports, your voice and data information of your cellular-enabled device is communicated to both cell towers and to Wi-Fi access points located throughout these public areas. Large mobile carriers do this to save network bandwidth in high-density areas.
Your devices have intelligence built into them to automatically and silently switch between cellular and Wi-Fi. Security researchers have exposed some flaws in this cellular to Wi-Fi handover process and it’s very likely that we will see a large 5G to Wi-Fi security vulnerability be exposed in 2020 that could allow attackers to access the voice and/or data of 5G mobile phones.
Security Tips: Most mobile devices don’t allow the users to disable cellular to Wi-Fi handover (also known as Hotspot 2.0). Windows 10 currently does, however. If unsure, individuals should utilize a VPN on their cellular devices so that attackers who are eavesdropping on cellular to Wi-Fi connections won’t be able to access your data. For businesses looking to enable Hotspot 2.0, make sure your Wi-Fi access points (APs) have been tested independently to stop the six known Wi-Fi threat categories detailed at http://trustedwirelessenvironment.com. If the APs block these threats, attackers cannot eavesdrop on the cellular to Wi-Fi handoff.
Interested in what other emerging threats and security issues might surface next year? Check out the WatchGuard Threat Lab’s complete list of 2020 Security Predictions here.