Everything You Need to Know About 5G Security

By Haseeb Awan

Cell phone users want high data speed and reliable services, and the 5G technology of fifth-generation wireless networks promises to bring about just that and more. With 5G, data transmitted over wireless broadband connection estimates up to a maximum speed of 20 gigabits per second. 5G significantly increases the amount of data transmission through wireless systems due to additional bandwidth, and a smartphone user can download a full-length movie in about 15 seconds.

5G technology is already reshaping and improving cellphone connections. Thanks to the high-speed and low latency of 5G networks, billions of devices and IoT (internet of things) are interconnected.

However, great potential and unlimited connectivity bring forth many security challenges, and for 5G success, security capabilities are the key. The fifth-generation mobile communication system has higher security requirements than previous systems. As it unlocks more significant opportunities for businesses like manufacturing, healthcare, and the 5G IoT market, it has also opened up loopholes for security breaches.

Before we shed light on the future security implications that 5G will have, let's examine 5G security and potential security threats on 5G network technology.

What is 5G Security?

5G technology allows networks to connect almost anything and everything virtually, including machines and devices. But since the technology is relatively new, there is no official definition available to define it. Nevertheless, much of the online debate has focused on the 5G security and threats in developing and designing the 5G infrastructure.

The major networks and government are worried about the security of 5G and its impact on future data sharing. According to the AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report in the United States, only 16% of businesses have started preparing to mitigate the security threats related to 5G.

Although it is considered the most secure wireless network technology due to its extensive built-in security features, one should never throw caution to the wind when adopting new technology.

Inherited Security Flaws

Most network operators have created 5G networks based on the core of existing LTE networks, which means that 5G is vulnerable to all the threats associated with 4G networks. It shows that 100% of 5G NSA networks are most likely exposed to DoS attacks. For compatibility with old communication standards like 2G, 3G, and 4G, 5G technology must provide secure communication with devices using old measures.    

More Connected Devices, Increased Attack Surface

Millions of devices like home appliances, industrial automation controls, televisions, cars, smartphones, climate monitoring sensors, next-generation tablets and other wide ranges are likely to be connected to 5G—the attack surface increases due to a large number of connected devices. 

MiTM attacks and 5G

5G is susceptible to a Man-in-the-Middle-attack (MiTM). In a MiTM attack, hackers eavesdrop on signals sent over the cellphone or the internet, get the information and enter their commands while impersonating the legitimate mobile network operator.

Network Traffic Visibility

With the implementation of 5G, networks are likely to become more usable for consumers and cellphone users, resulting in managing network traffic. However, without Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), businesses may not achieve the network traffic visibility needed to identify attacks. With other critical vulnerabilities, 5G also has identification and authentication flaws.

IP and DDoS Attacks

5G technology depends on SDN or software-defined-network layers to perform heavy tasks. Although SDN provides flexibility to the 5G network, 5G networks become an easy target for IP attacks like distributed denial of service or DDoS and network hijacking.

To strengthen the 5G network security, we must implement security risk mitigation measures and solutions. 

Understanding 5G Security Infrastructure

The emerging security architecture is based on 3G and 4G security architecture ideas but expands and enhances them into a new 5G environment. It also includes new enhancements such as encryption, authentication, user privacy, and a set of security measures and procedures to implement the security controls required to achieve the identified security objectives. All operations previously performed by physical devices in the 4G network are now successfully managed by 5G cloud-based microservices through the radio side.

The 5G network infrastructure can provide consumers and businesses with an enhanced experience, supporting advancements for industrial IoT (internet-of-things), automated driving, telemedicine, 5G blockchain technology and more. However, realizing the full potential of 5G calls for innovative thinking and a new 5G infrastructure security to cope with increasing cyber threats, complex tasks, and more network connections.

Furthermore, the fundamental design concepts of 5G infrastructure focuses on security, significant application performance and versatility are consists of:

  • Network slicing; a dedicated logical network for isolated applications
  • MEC or mobile edge computation
  • Application-level security
  • Interconnect (SBA or service-based architecture)
  • Software-defined networking (SDN)
  • Network function virtualization

The future of 5G security

The 5G security system is an integral part of 5G, and its role is prominent. 5G network creates new services, business models, and opportunities to enter the mobile market.

The development of 5G cellular communications requires an awareness of new opportunities, security threats, and trusted methods that must be considered when designing and planning the future security of the 5G network.

Private 5G Network and network slicing

Businesses that demand a high level of security for national interests, economic development and growth often go for an expensive 5G private network. The 5G private network controls network hardware and software settings, giving organizations extensive security benefits to avoid vulnerabilities. Moreover, the remote network does not require backward compatibility with older network standards like 2G, 3G, and 4G.

Network slicing is one of the 5G features in all mobile networks and services that share the same infrastructure but are isolated and separated from each other. Network slicing allows the networks to create virtual boundaries for a specific customer or set of devices. Only authorized devices can be connected to the network, limiting attacks' chances.

Take your mobile security services to the next level by installing Efani's 5G node from your home and office. The Efani 5G node is a private cellular tower that you can install from your office and home. This 5G node uses your home or work network and offers the best cellular distribution with 5G QoS security, traffic priority and more.

New Threats

The development of 5G devices is growing exponentially. Significantly increased speed, lower latency, and support for device density (device/areas) offer new opportunities for evolving 5G technology applications. The rapid growth in connected devices makes 5G a demanding infrastructure to ensure business continuity and a significant target for malicious attacks to exploit connected devices.

Managed Services for 5G Security

One of the main reasons for introducing 5G technology is to encourage innovation in business to avoid competition and increase revenue. If you plan to include 5G as an integral part of your company's innovation plan, efficient and secure use of technology is the key.

The most-effective approach is to deploy managed security services to support your 5G strategy. Managed security services include next-generation firewalls, secure remote access solutions, and a secure web gateway. 

As important as the security features of 5G are, network operators must also implement those features. The good thing is that 5g is compelling and flexible, but the best way to ensure 5G security is to be ready for security challenges.

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