Expert warns of increase in fraud with rise of 5G network

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission says it is on track to roll out 5G cellular network by the second quarter of next year. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: An expert in data and analytics has warned of a possible increase in online fraud with the advent of fifth-generation or 5G network, saying fraudsters may seek to exploit weaknesses and target devices without robust security defences.

Alisdair Faulkner, the chief identity officer of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said 5G would give such fraudsters more room to work as more connected mobile devices would lead to more transactions on browsers and apps.

“As 5G is increasingly adopted, we expect a potential increase in fraudulent transactions via mobile apps and browsers,” he told FMT.

In October, a survey by the firm found that some 63% of fraud experienced by industries in Malaysia were those offering transactions using mobile browsers and apps.

That same month, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said it was on track to roll out 5G cellular network by the second quarter of next year.

5G is expected to be at least 10 times faster than the 4G network currently offered by most telco providers, with speeds exceeding one gigabit per second.

Faulkner also voiced concern about “significant new risks to businesses” as 5G will power millions of new wireless devices such as self-driving cars and next-generation networks.

He said new technology would come hand in hand with a range of new vulnerabilities, with fraudsters and cybercriminals “all too eager” to test boundaries and defences.

He warned that consumers would be affected as well, as 5G will fuel new operational models, architecture and service delivery models.

He said fraudsters could gain entry to homes through the internet of things.

“There is also concern that fraudsters will target data in transit, hijacking devices to steal customer credentials, capture credit card numbers and infect networks with malware.”

In the long run, he added, fraud could impact the entire economy, leaving many victims in its wake from consumers whose money is stolen to companies that spend resources investigating fraud.

Authorities, too, would pour resources into probing crimes which Faulkner said could be used elsewhere.

“As soon as fraudulent transactions happen, it’s like a domino effect,” he said.

In the US, he said, nearly US$17 billion was stolen from consumers in 2018 – a huge amount of money which was not spent on the economy.

“Fraud costs an economy in terms of monetary value, resources and trust. It is hugely damaging and puts a spotlight on the necessity of a comprehensive, end-to-end defence against fraud.”