The U.S. military is devoting time and resources into research on improving the signal quality and security of 5G--efforts that, if history is any indication, eventually will result in technologies that are available to commercial enterprises.\n\n5G resources\n\nWhat is 5G? Fast wireless technology for enterprises and phones\nHow 5G frequency affects range and speed\nPrivate 5G can solve some problems that Wi-Fi can\u2019t\nPrivate 5G keeps Whirlpool driverless vehicles rolling\n5G can make for cost-effective private backhaul\nCBRS can bring private 5G to enterprises\n\n\nAs Breaking Defense reports, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded roughly $500,000 in \u201cexploratory\u201d funding to wireless startup MixComm to demonstrate whether silicon-based millimeter wave (mmWave) power amplifiers can economically boost radio signals so the Department of Defense (DoD) can leverage 5G wireless connectivity globally.\nA MixComm spokesperson told Breaking Defense that the company\u2019s radios amplify mmWave frequencies in a way that offers \u201ctremendous bandwidth, capacity and low latency,\u201d in part because mmWaves use higher frequencies than commonly used today.\nFor commercial enterprises whose digital transformation is largely dependent on high-performance networks, bandwidth and capacity breakthroughs can\u2019t come soon enough. Remote work and collaboration, the Internet of Things, multimedia, edge networks, and intelligent apps \u2013 all of these and more are dependent on network speed and scalability.\n\nIoT risks for the military\nThe U.S. Air Force is eager to expand its use of 5G-enabled devices, but the military\u2019s aerial branch is well aware that new technologies spawn new threats. To reduce its vulnerability as it integrates 5G-powered IoT devices into its network, the Air Force is collaborating with startups to develop IoT security solutions.\nMost recently, the branch awarded Phosphorus Cybersecurity a research contract to develop automated tools for conducting inventory of IoT devices as well as patching and credential management of connected devices in a 5G environment, according to Washington Technology.\nNeedless to say, commercial enterprises that may be deploying thousands of 5G-enabled IoT devices have a rooting interest in better (and automated) security. Not only does every device connected to a network represent a point of potential vulnerability, newer devices by definition are more likely to have undetected security flaws.\n5G networks are more vulnerable\nFurther, 5G networks are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than previous networks in five specific ways, as The Brookings Institution writes:\n\nNetworks built prior to 5G had "hardware choke points" where security controls could be applied to digital traffic. 5G, however, is a software-defined network (SDN) that lacks such security choke points.\nIn 5G, higher-level network functions traditionally performed by physical appliances will be virtualized in software that runs on popular commercial operating systems and use the common language of internet protocol, both of which are useful tools for hackers.\n5G networks are managed by software, which theoretically can be controlled by hackers. That means the hackers also can control your 5G network.\nDramatically expanded bandwidth means dramatically expanded avenues of attack.\n5G will spawn the deployment of tens of billions of IoT devices to networks. Again, more devices equal greater vulnerability.\n\nWhatever 5G solutions DARPA and the Air Force come up with in collaboration with their research partners, commercialization likely won\u2019t be far behind. Indeed, DARPA actually has a group that encourages commercialization of technology for with the agency has conducted research and development. DARPA also recently expanded its Embedded Entrepreneurship Initiative with \u201cthe goal of accelerating 150 DARPA-backed technologies out of the lab and into products that promise to fundamentally change the way we live, work, and fight.\u201d\nCommercial products developed by the US military\nThe history of military research resulting in commercialized products is long and rich. From the last century the list includes:\n\n1904 \u2013 Undershirts\n1914 \u2013 Feminine hygiene products (I am not making this up)\n1930 \u2013 Aviator sunglasses\n1942 \u2013 Duct tape\n1943 \u2013 Silly putty\n1946 \u2013 Microwave oven\n1956 \u2013 Ghost detector (I am making this up)\n1960 \u2013 GPS\n1969 \u2013 The internet\n1973 \u2013 The EpiPen\n\nThat\u2019s a pretty good track record!