As you have probably heard, 3G is phasing out. On February 22, AT&T shut down its 3G network. T-Mobile Sprint will retire its 3G network next week on March 31, 2022. Verizon, the last of the pack, will retire 3G by the end of 2022.
What does this mean for your business and your security? The obvious answer is that older phones should be replaced as soon as possible, but the 3G shutdown’s impact will reach beyond phones, and that reach may affect your organization’s security.
What is the 3G network?
Most people have heard of 5G, which stands for 5th Generation mobile network — 5G has been slowly implemented over the past few years to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds to wireless devices, as well we low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience.
3G is the 3rd Generation mobile network, released in 2001. It was 3G that allowed for the advent of the modern mobile phone with multimedia capabilities. 4G followed in 2010, but 3G networks have continued to support older devices. Now that the 3G network is being retired, some of those devices will stop working, and not all of them are personal mobile phones.
What will be affected by the 3G shutdown?
While much of the media around the shutdown has focused on personal devices owned by individuals, businesses can absolutely be affected by the shutdown, especially those who haven’t updated connected devices recently. The following devices may be affected by the shutdown:
Vehicles: According to the FCC, vehicles’ SOS systems may be affected by the 3G shutdown, meaning that unless company vehicles’ modems are replaced, drivers won’t be able to call for help when they’re in danger. The shutdown will also affect other connected devices in cars and trucks, such as the mobile logging devices used in the transportation industry to manage trucking fleets.
Medical devices and wearables: Many older medical devices rely on the 3G network to communicate, so it’s incredibly important the healthcare industry upgrades immediately to avoid a loss of connectivity.
The Internet of Things (IoT): Any organization using older devices, whether for mission-critical activities, like manufacturing, or any office equipment that uses 3G to communicate, This can mean that anything from the office’s smart coffee pot to important connected devices like smart water wells or grid transformers may stop working if they’re’ not replaced or updated.
Security systems: Some older security systems also rely on the 3G network as well, meaning that if someone breaks into a site using an older system, the authorities will not be contacted.
What does the 3G shutdown mean for cybersecurity?
Devices that run on 3G will simply stop working, so this is the rare case in which a digital device may cause a physical security breach rather than a cybersecurity breach. If access control, security cameras, or security systems stop working, that means an intruder can walk into your site and breach security physically. If a truck’s SOS system stops working, your drivers can be in danger.
One of the biggest cyberthreats is likely that criminals may be looking for organizations that are still using 3G, and planning to target them as the old networks are sunsetted. If you haven’t updated your devices yet, it’s time to do so, and it’s also time to make sure intruders aren’t prodding at your network to find out if you might be a target once 3G is shut down.
How can SecurityScorecard help?
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