‘Security is set to be the next great differentiator’

16 Jul 2021

Adam Weinberg. Image: FirstPoint Mobile Guard

FirstPoint Mobile Guard’s Adam Weinberg discusses how 5G will increase the pace of change and the importance of cellular security.

With more than 35 years of expertise, Adam Weinberg is a pioneer in the cybersecurity industry and co-founder and CTO of FirstPoint Mobile Guard.

FirstPoint Mobile Guard develops cellular cybersecurity solutions for organisations and aims to protect them at a network level.

Before FirstPoint, Weinberg held leadership positions in research and development at Verint, a software company formerly a subsidiary of Comverse Technology, and at the cyber and intelligence division at Nice Systems.

Weinberg holds a master’s in physics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and holds five patents in cybersecurity and mobile technology.

‘What are the security implications of a pen or a shoe connected through cellular? That remains to be seen’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

As the CTO at FirstPoint, my primary responsibilities are leading the process of setting our product’s future directions and goals. As part of my role, I oversee the development and architectural aspect of our cellular security solutions, helping our clients stay safe from the ever-growing, widespread threats of mobile cyberattacks.

This includes aligning technology-related decisions with the companies’ goals, budgeting, ensuring our product and technology infrastructure meets our existing clients and partners’ needs, and suggesting new technologies to implement following interactions with external partners.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

Connectivity is the name of the game for many activities and services we consume. As a result, we see a growing need for security for connected cellular devices. Personal mobile phones have become a basic commodity in most counties and we are experiencing an increasing demand for IoT devices that rely on a cellular connection.

We’re focusing on eliminating device manipulation by protecting sensitive data with a holistic mobile network-based approach that increases trust, from 2G to 5G for IoT devices and personal phones.

How big is your team?

From the very beginning, our approach was based on in-house professionals who have the unique knowledge and expertise we need to develop our patent-based technology. Even today, after we have grown to dozens of employees, we are still 100pc reliant on in-house development to ensure quality and security.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

Even though Covid was chosen by the American Dialect Society as 2020’s word of the year, the phrase digital transformation was with no doubt intensively expedited following the pandemic crisis.

Widespread IoT services are making waves across industries with autonomous cars, smart cities, connected medical devices, mission-critical services, and the list goes on. Needless to say, 5G emergence will only increase the pace of change.

The digital transformation made people intensively connected and reliant on their mobile phones. Connected devices and mass IoT adoption are practically everywhere and are an inevitable part of the digital transformation. With threats escalating in sophistication and number, we are all called to level up our connectivity security solutions.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

5G is on the rise, delivering dramatically improved connectivity services. We see many businesses looking for ways to manage and evolve through new connectivity options.

By 2025, 320m 5G subscribers are expected in the US alone, according to telecom giant Ericsson. Also, 5G will help further expand IoT usage due to its latency and bandwidth improvements.

As 5G hits the ground, security is set to be the next great differentiator and will continue to be the case for years to come. Naturally, when a new technology is being introduced, new loopholes are being discovered.

A great effort was invested in 5G, enhancing the security and privacy of the users and attempting to solve well-known security issues of the previous generations of cellular networks (2G, 3G, 4G).

However, considering the complexity of the network structure and operation on the one hand, and the high potential damages to privacy and vital services on the other hand, I would argue that 5G network implementation is still subject to a very substantial risk of cyberthreats and presents a challenge to security efforts.

As a matter of fact, despite the major security features included in the 5G design, security loopholes are still reported to be present in the 5G networks, posing a considerable risk to the operators and users of the 5G networks.

With 5G already being implemented, the march of technology awaits no one. Super-fast 6G is already in discussions. What are the security implications of a pen or a shoe connected through cellular? That remains to be seen.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Although it may seem that the potential security risks are endless and threatening, we can do a lot to protect ourselves and our organisations. Individuals should, of course, practise standard cyber hygiene. Use only certified devices and well-known services. Sensitive users with high-risk threats should consider adding dedicated cellular protection services.

Still, one of the major risk factors is the human factor. It cannot be assumed that people will not make security mistakes. After all, making mistakes is one of the basic human traits. That is why security needs to be implemented in the background without relying on human behaviour.

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