What Is 5G Security?

 

3 min read

Mobile network operators, or MNOs, are paving the next evolution in networks with the rollout of 5G. 5G promises transformative mobility by offering an enhanced mobile broadband experience and enabling the mass digitization of businesses and industries. 5G networks will unleash a new series of high-speed services across billions of devices and the internet of things, or IoT, including high-definition video devices, self-driving cars and smart cities. Although these services are expected to evolve in multiple stages over the next decade, mobile networks will not be 5G-ready unless the necessary security capabilities are built in by design.

The early stages of 5G evolution will revolve around delivering higher data speeds, latency improvements and the functional redesign of mobile networks to enable greater agility, efficiency and openness. Although these improvements will yield revenue opportunities for operators, the explosion of low-cost, low-power, unsecured IoT/sensors will also pose increased security risks for both operators and end users. Establishing the right security approach for the emerging 5G networks is critical.

Today’s cyberattacks can already evade mobile network security, and simply making legacy security run faster isn’t an effective maneuver. Legacy approaches that depend on disparate security elements will not scale or be able to adequately prevent successful attacks across 5G networks. 5G radio network deployments include significant expansions of small cells connecting over untrusted networks, device-to-device communications, and devices connecting to multiple cells at once. This evolution expands the threat landscape by increasing the number of intrusion points. With billions of connected devices and critical enterprise applications relying on 5G networks, MNOs cannot wait to address attacks and security incidents after they have already happened – they need to adopt a comprehensive end-to-end security strategy that includes:

  • Complete visibility, inspection and controls that are applied across all layers of the network including application, signaling and data planes.
  • Cloud-based threat analytics combined with advanced big data and machine learning algorithms that can be used across different mobile network locations to provide swift response to known and unknown threats in real time.
  • Security functions integrated with open APIs to offer consistent security across software and hardware to support the distributed 5G architectures.
  • Contextual security outcomes using data-driven threat prevention to find and isolate infected devices before attacks can potentially take place.

With these security capabilities in place, MNOs will be able protect their network elements and subscribers while providing differentiated network security services so enterprise verticals can confidently transform their businesses with new 5G applications. Even though standards and network architectures are still being defined, organizations are increasingly looking to service providers for resilient networks to securely connect their customers. Establishing application-layer visibility and consistent security across the mobile network is essential to providing future-proof security.