Unease over travel bubbles

Unease over travel bubbles

The broader rollout of 5G networks is causing concern about the exposure to cyber risks, especially the cross-border transfer of personal data. (Photo: 123RF)
The broader rollout of 5G networks is causing concern about the exposure to cyber risks, especially the cross-border transfer of personal data. (Photo: 123RF)

The cross-border transfer of personal data in the face of travel bubbles forged during the pandemic and cyberattacks on the 5G network are among major cybersecurity concerns this year, says Palo Alto Networks, an American cybersecurity firm.

"The attempt of many countries to create travel bubbles and green lanes will amplify the data privacy debate in this year," Sean Duca, vice-president and regional chief of security for Asia Pacific and Japan at Palo Alto Networks, said at a virtual conference.

More countries are establishing travel bubbles and reciprocal green lanes in a bid to revive the travel and hospitality sectors battered by the pandemic.

To make the arrangements efficient and safe for all travellers, personal data will need to be shared across borders with proper security controls and transparent communication about how the data will be handled and stored, he said.

With this critical need to move data between government agencies and enterprises such as airlines, airports and hotels, the debate around how data is stored, accessed and used is not set to disappear in 2021, he said.

Individuals are now more conscious of their personal data being shared, he said. The sharing of medical data derived from Covid-19 testing along with constant tracking is causing unease among travellers who are concerned about how their information is shared.

In 2021, the broader rollout of 5G networks with more 5G adoption by enterprises is causing concern about the exposure to cyber risks.

The sheer number of nodes that need to be installed makes the deployment of such networks that much more challenging, dramatically increasing the potential surface area for cyberattacks, Mr Duca said.

Private sector infrastructure owners cannot afford to deploy the same approaches to designing and rolling out 5G networks, otherwise they will fall victim to the same types of attacks as they did in 3G and 4G networks.

"Enterprise adoption of private 5G networks is accelerating in a big way," he said, adding Deloitte predicts that a third of the 2020–2025 private 5G market will come from ports, airports and logistics hubs, which are expected to be among the first movers.

He also sees working from home getting smarter and safer in 2021 as security will get pushed to the edge and simplified.

With the increased adoption of cloud tools, that reduces the need for pricier devices with more computing power as virtualised desktops become an increasingly popular solution, Mr Duca said.

He said that while network security controls remain an important component of cloud security, an additional layer of identity and access management (IAM) governance is now needed as organisations continue to scale their cloud presence.

Tatchapol Poshyanonda, country director of Palo Alto Networks Thailand, said the company is working with the Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission and 12 universities in Thailand to train a cybersecurity workforce at Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy, a global initiative that addresses the critical cybersecurity skills gap.

Some 3,000 people will be trained under the programme over the next three years, he said.

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