Designing for Security in 5G Networks

Adaptability, speed, integration, and automation are crucial features of an efficient 5G security and response system.

The wide array of machines or end points that connect to and exchange data with a 5G network expose it to numerous risks. Establishing trust by managing these end points means involving industry best practices like two-way authentication, signed software delivery, certificates, and encryption. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze traffic patterns and detect anomalies should be self-explanatory for critical IoT devices and services.

For 5G radio access and transport security, tunneling data avoids the need to set up individual security for different sessions. Encrypting control and management traffic planes protects traffic and hides the core network to prevent an unauthenticated element from connecting to it. Encrypting the user plan will be demanded by critical or sensitive slice-customers to protect the data from being transmitted.

In the cloud’s shared infrastructure, new security challenges can be dealt with via a number of security measures. Virtual network functions (VNFs) need to be separated, and this can take place with virtual switches, vLANs, and wide-area VPNs. Virtual firewalls also help to provide security.

For 5G core security, dividing the 5G core into security zones helps to control and monitor traffic and enforce the integrity of its data. Confidentiality rules can be set for each zone, making it significantly harder for threats to spread from one domain to another. This will be important, as the core will be highly distributed to support new use cases. It is similarly important that the network functions within the Service-Based-Architecture (SBA) are properly using certificates and TLS as recommended by 3GPP.

5G security with analytics and automation

5G networks cross many discrete infrastructure domains and contain numerous physical and virtual network functions. Thus, security management and efficiency are more challenging than in older networks because of the complexity of the architecture, which includes distributed RAN, cloud RAN, edge core, and cloud core. This complexity requires automated workflows to reduce the time and effort to provision services to meet varied service level agreements (SLAs).

Security, Orchestration, Analytics and Response (SOAR) deals with this complexity by orchestrating and automating responses by executing a playbook to validate whether an event is based on human error or if it is an attack. The key principles of SOAR include:

  • Constantly measuring security posture and risk levels
  • Controlling and limiting access to key operational systems and assets
  • Detecting threats earlier in the mitigation chain
  • Rapid response to minimize the impact of cyberattacks

The security team can rely on fast, automated responses with a 5G-capable SOAR. With automation, there is quicker time to resolution, and the current problem of staff shortages isn’t as acute because a human spends less time with each incident.

5G Security Success

For 5G to be successful, end-to-end security from the mobile core to the edge and radio is crucial to defend against the increasing number of threats and vulnerabilities. Designing for security in 5G networks must not only limit methods and places of attack but also dramatically cut the time between detection and mitigation. Adaptability, speed, integration, and automation are crucial features of an efficient 5G security and response system, especially considering the complexity and sophistication of 5G networks. By making security operations both predictive and automated, these features can be achieved. This approach is the most effective way to make 5G networks secure and develop trust among CSPs’ customers, which is the determining factor of the success of 5G.


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