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5G network security a US$9 billion dollar opportunity - report

The cloud-native nature of 5G networks will have a disruptive and positive impact on the cybersecurity industry in the next few years, with 5G network security presenting a US$9 billion enterprise market opportunity by 2025.

According to global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, the ushering-in of cloud-native infrastructures and network-function virtualisation, API-driven platforms, and isolation capabilities through containers and network slices provides significant opportunities for IT cybersecurity offerings to find applications in 5G. 

Both security software and services will be in demand from enterprises looking to leverage trusted mMTC and URLLC applications, it says.

"Initial spending on security will be by CSPs as they focus on securing their own mobile infrastructure and network," says Michela Menting, digital security research director at ABI Research.

"As CSPs advance, there is an opportunity for them to recoup that investment and monetise it through enterprise security offerings. This will most likely be in partnership with network equipment providers (NEPs) and pure-play cybersecurity vendors," she says.

Menting says there is a substantial play for hyperscalers here as well.

"5G core will introduce apps and data ecosystem into Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) distributed environments (including app-level and interface API security). The integration with the cloud will be key and allow value to be delivered initially via software and eventually through services," she says.

Menting says there is serious potential to explore OPEX delivered security models through the cloud once requirements around performance and latency can be met. 

"CSPs, notably Tier Ones, are keen to attract security-sensitive industries to 5G and this is driving them to integrate security software and services into their 5G networks," she says.

"At present, many traditional IT cybersecurity solutions do not adapt to cellular core networks, so a period of transformation will be required. 

"There will be an ongoing effort for CSPs to create a security portfolio for enterprises, as well as for solutions vendors to provide carrier-grade offerings."

Currently, network security appliances remain easier to implement, particularly from CSPs who continue to consume hardware for performance and scale, and particularly for hybrid networks (4G/5G). In time, security software and services offerings for enterprises will increase once the 5G core standalone mode becomes mainstream. ABI Research believes these will likely emerge post-2023.

"What is clear is that there will be an opportunity for new entrants to penetrate the network security market as 5G rolls out, especially pure-play cybersecurity providers as demands for network security appliances soar," says Menting.

"But increasingly, hyperscalers and new innovative software and cloud vendors will see opportunity, notably in the private 5G network market."