5G Americas White Paper Details Emerging Security Threats and Safeguards as 5G Wireless Networks Move Towards A New Service-Based Architecture

5G is an evolving technology that will usher in an age of accelerated innovation connecting people, things and machines, through continuing improvements in mobile wireless communications. Today, 5G Americas, the wireless industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, today published a whitepaper titled Security Considerations for the 5G Era, highlighting enhanced security protocols for 5G, as it evolves and matures to address emerging, security threats in the wireless cellular landscape.

The white paper identifies how 5G wireless technology significantly differs from previous generations, as the entire wireless cellular network has been re-architected to use new capabilities such as software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualization (NFV) for new services, and cloud-native architectures for scalability. The implementation of these elements requires additional encryption, extra defense in edge networks, and sophisticated new protocols to handle the demands of network slicing, multi-access edge computing (MEC), and a disaggregated, radio access network (RAN).

Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas said, “5G networks are beginning to touch every facet of human life - from work, entertainment, personal and social activities, making security central to this monumental technology. Mobile Network operators and their vendor partners have always and will continue to put security as a top priority for their networks.”

Security Considerations for the 5G Era delves into 5G architectures that are designed to close possible security gaps from previous generations of cellular networks, as well as manage new security challenges outside the traditional framework.

This 5G Americas white paper will cover important aspects such as:

  • how 5G differs from other wireless architectures, and what threats, vulnerabilities and attacks are therefore possible
  • how security is handled in 5G non-standalone (NSA) versus standalone (SA) 5G networks
  • additional security considerations that examine various aspects of software, virtualization, automation, and orchestration in the RAN and core networks
  • Zero-Trust security and several other new recommended techniques that mitigate threats

David Krauss, Principal Network Architect for Ciena, and leader for the project, said, “Security has been designed and incorporated into 5G standards. A strategic approach is taken related to cloud-native services, open-source software, APIs, SDN, and NFV, which together provide greater overall 5G network security.”

This paper further addresses:

  • technology threats that remain in the RAN and how they may be tackled
  • detailed 3GPP designs for 5G security capabilities involving confidentiality, integrity, authentication, privacy and isolation
  • Network Slicing capabilities that provide greater isolation, privacy, and security across 5G networks
  • more highly defined cyber threat intelligence protocols
  • Security-as-a-service (“SaaS”) through service-based architecture
  • how network operators should address vulnerabilities from interworking with 3G/4G systems, such as 5G short message service (SMS) over non-access stratum (NAS) interoperability with 3G/4G systems

Krauss further added, “Enhancing 5G by combining a secure design, threat intelligence, and a programmable infrastructure that supports network slicing ensures a secured, resilient service.”

The paper Security Considerations for the 5G Era is available for free download on the 5G Americas website. Blog post by Chris Pearson, and presentation slides are also featured on the 5G Americas website.

About 5G Americas: The Voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas

5G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. The organization’s mission is to facilitate and advocate for the advancement and transformation of LTE, 5G and beyond throughout the Americas. 5G Americas is invested in developing a connected wireless community while leading 5G development for all the Americas. 5G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. More information is available at 5G Americas website and Twitter.

5G Americas’ Board of Governors Members include AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Ciena, Cisco, CommScope, Crown Castle, Ericsson, Intel, Mavenir, Nokia, Qualcomm Incorporated, Samsung, Shaw Communications Inc., T-Mobile US, Inc., Telefónica, and WOM.