Dundee researchers have issued warnings over potential security threats faced by the soon-to-be introduced 5G mobile phone network.
Computing and security experts from Dundee University have discovered the much-vaunted upgrade is not as secure as once thought.
5G, which has been described as a “rocket fuel” for connectivity between internet enabled devices, could be introduced in the UK as early as next year.
A group of scientists, comprised of researchers from Dundee University, ETH Zurich, and the University of Lorraine INRIA in Switzerland, said there were still large gaps in the security network which could be compromised by cyber-attack.
In particular, the research group discovered individual users could be susceptible to targeted attacks or hacks.
The current 4G network is currently still not available to almost 25% of the country.
With the introduction of 5G, communication information stations will be able to connect to more individual devices, meaning phones, laptops, and “internet of things” devices like smart-fridges and cars will be able to hook-up to the service.
Dr Saša Radomirovic, senior lecturer in the school of computing, is one of the research team.
He said: “People will use 5G like they use 4G now, to make calls, send texts, swap pictures, or make payments and purchases.
“But 5G will likely also be present in autonomous vehicles, internet of things devices, and industrial control systems, for example.
“It has been promised to be faster and more secure than previous networks but we’ve found that it isn’t as secure as hoped.
“In its current state, 5G does not close all the security gaps, which could result in numerous cyber-attacks and users being charged for the mobile phone usage of a third party.
He continued: “We have proposed a number of improvements to close these gaps.
“What we remain concerned about are the less than perfect privacy protections it provides leaving users vulnerable to targeted attacks.
“The most important take-away from our work is that introducing a new technology without a rigorous formal analysis of its specifications may lead to serious consequences.”
The group will present their findings at an upcoming conference on computer and communications security in Toronto, Canada where they will further highlight the steps needing taken to close the security holes.