While 5G networks are expected to deliver 10X the speed of current 4G LTE networks, new security concerns are also rising as the long-awaited Internet-of-Things comes into view. There are obvious upsides for both consumers and law enforcement who have had to contend with data limitations and power constraints that have frustrated the adoption of the most cutting-edge solutions.

Mobile customers will enjoy a longer battery life as their smartphone will only need to access the network periodically. Governments planning smart city initiatives will now be able to initiate the necessary infrastructure to begin the smart city revolution.

5G data speeds will allow for effective use of sensors and video monitoring that is foundational to mobile health care (mHealth) and telemedicine. Patients will be empowered to become more autonomous while doctors retain visibility on the vital signs and progress.

Police officers in the field will enjoy faster performance from real-time data solutions such as facial recognition and license plate scanning as their accuracy receives a boost from the higher ceiling of data communication. The low-latency and faster output from mission-critical applications will empower officers to become more digitally autonomous as they can spend more time in the field and less at the station.

As mobile operators and vendors market the perks of 5G, the less obvious downsides will only become evident when wider adoption occurs. In anticipation of possible challenges, let’s explore some of the potential dangers that should be anticipated.

Mobile Device Identifiers and User Attribution

Law enforcement agencies have come to rely on unique identifiers associated with mobile devices to obtain information about the user such as location-based data. 5G will replace the permanent identifier with one which is temporary and destructs after a connection to a cell tower is established. This will make it more difficult for law enforcement to gain information about a person as the relationship between a mobile subscriber and a cell tower could become unclear.

Read here how cell tower records helped confirm a suspects location near the scene of a homicide.

5G complicates digital evidence gathering and surveillance

Up to this point, mobile devices have transferred data through a single medium such as Wi-Fi or a mobile network tower. 5G allows for a device to obtain partial data from a network tower and other data through alternative means, such as connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite, or ISP.

This will mean that investigators will have to piece together the digital trail of suspects or victims using multiple data communication sources and logs. So, the importance of having a digital intelligence solution that can integrate disparate data logs and media into a cohesive timeline is critical to avoid manually matching data threads and formats that could consume precious time.  

When and What to Expect from 5G Mobile Devices

Even though 5G is predicted to be widely used in 2020, this year Samsung, as well as other phone manufacturers, will roll out first-generation 5G phones. Law enforcement will need to become prepared for the new wave of 5G mobile devices that will increase the complexity of technological environments, locally and globally.

With low latency and high available bandwidth, the 5G mobile device is also being positioned as the “remote control” of the Internet of Things, the coming technology that will enable the fully-connected lifestyles of the future.

As the mobile device becomes the key to accessing a user’s personal, public and professional life, the profile data of future suspects and victims will become inextricably embedded in the hyper-connected 5G environment. This will increase the transparency of such details as alibi’s and activities while at the same time drastically expanding the amount of data produced by each person.

Surviving the 5G Data Explosion

Artificial Intelligence is hailed as the answer that can both save law enforcement and security agencies from drowning in the data, as well as constructively harness the data to power actionable intelligence.

At Cellebrite, we have been preparing for the upcoming big data challenges that innovations like 5G present. Our digital intelligence solutions are powered by AI and machine-learning to assist law enforcement to scale procedures, automate tasks and eliminate manual review of digital evidence.

As 5G fragments communication logs across different technologies, Cellebrite Pathfinder will weave together a coherent sequence of events. When smartphones host an even greater amount of data than today, Analytics will sift through the faces, places and digital traces to surface the most relevant starting points and incriminating evidence.

At the end of the day, a total solution that extracts smartphone data into an Analytics solution powered by machine-learning gives law enforcement and security agencies a fighting chance at winning the time-to-evidence race in the coming 5G connected landscape.

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