5G security needs to be built into the standard


Security needs to be built into the yet-to-be-determined 5G standard from the very outset, said SIMalliance 

While requirements for security in 5G will differ across market segments from the Internet of Things (IoT), critical comms, enhanced mobile broadband and network operations, the need for security and privacy in 5G networks will be fundamental across them all. A new whitepaper from the SIMalliance has therefore concluded that security needs to be built into the yet-to-be-determined 5G standard from the very outset.

When compared to 4G, 5G networks are expected to provide greater throughput, higher connectivity density with low latency, better coverage, greater reliability, efficient handover between heterogeneous RATs and a higher mobility range with much greater service differentiation than previous network technologies. These features will be provided by different network layers. Security, privacy, trust and identity must therefore be delivered within a highly diverse technical and functional environment, said the SIMalliance.

The paper, titled ‘An Analysis of the Security Needs of the 5G Market’, finds that security needs and threats will vary by market segment and use case, because service specific technologies will themselves vary in terms of complexity, speed and attractiveness as attack targets.

For example, at one end of the spectrum, there are low cost sensors in IoT that will require extended lifespans but may only need to be polled once a day or even less frequently, exchanging very small amounts of data. At the other end, there are emergency services within the critical communications segments, with corresponding high speed, low latency requirements in order to have access to information in real-time to save lives.

The paper identifies threats that, amongst others, may come from attack agents using IoT devices to access the network, to cloned equipment impacting network quality of service, to man in the middle attacks interrupting remote surgery or first responder services, or simply phishing attacks.

Commenting, Hervé Pierre, chairman of SIMalliance said: “It is early days for 5G. While the industry has a clear vision of services that it hopes 5G will facilitate, much remains to be determined on the technical front with standardisation activities just beginning.

“The aim of this paper is to provide a preliminary, much needed analysis of security requirements across the different 5G segments, to help inform the standardisation process. From our analysis, it is clear that each of these segments has different business, technical and security requirements, which may necessitate different solutions,” continued Pierre.

“Yet one thing is clear; security and privacy will remain absolutely fundamental requirements in 5G, as they have always been for mobile applications and services across devices that access wireless networks, if not more so. This is especially so, as the changes foreseen for 5G are likely to broaden the range of attractive attacks targets and elevate vulnerabilities. For this reason, the paper strongly concludes that it is crucial that security is considered and built into the 5G standard right from the very beginning,” Pierre stated.

“The SIMalliance invites engagement with interested industry participants in the emerging 5G ecosystem, in order that tamper-resistant hardware-based device security can be explored as an option, and fine-tuned as necessary, to protect 5G networks and the many new services which will be deployed across the various market segments,” Pierre noted.


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