5G: advantages and challenges
We know the transition to 5G will accelerate innovation and improve productivity. The use cases will be transformative and improve lives. At the same time, this development will create new challenges for mobile security. There will be larger attack surfaces, more devices, and more traffic. It is imperative that we ensure that 5G networks are secure from the start.
According to a study by Juniper Research, the United States is expected to account for 50% of hacked or compromised data worldwide by 2023. As a primary target of cyberattacks, the United States must ensure secure and resilient 5G networks. This is an opportunity for the United States to lead the world in 5G network security through policy, technology, and standards. Ericsson is well positioned to address and lead the key priorities and actions that will guide the United States through this pivotal moment.
5G brings new security improvements
Unlike previous network transitions that were more like upgrades, 5G is a totally new and different technology and network architecture. Once fully deployed, 5G will be “virtualized” in a service-based architecture (SBA), meaning that core network functions will run through a cloud-based, “software-defined” network. This will enable tailored security solutions such as “network slicing” for different network functions and private networks, which can significantly improve network security.
5G will also enable more discreet data access control, obfuscation of topology between network segments, more stringent cross-element encryption requirements, provisions for extended authentication, and privacy protections. enhanced for subscribers, among other new capabilities – all add up to more resilient, secure and trustworthy networks.
Let’s lead by example in 5G network security through policy, technology and standards
From a network perspective, protecting end users requires a comprehensive approach that considers risk mitigation in four areas:
- standards, which give vendors and carriers a common, open and well-established technical understanding of interoperability and security
- products developed through internal governance frameworks for security and privacy by design
- network deployments supported by resilient, high-integrity supply chains
- secure network operations, with top priority given to protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer data
Collectively, these four areas help define the risk posture of real-world networks, leading to a more secure end-user experience.
Today, there are several secure and reliable 5G providers in the United States and around the world, in addition to Ericsson, creating a competitive and robust market. The 5G landscape is ripe for innovation and market expansion that will help ensure security on global networks.
Telecommunications provide the framework for our hyper-connected international economy, making network security a global issue, not just a national one. We must continue to encourage the adoption of guidelines that improve the protection of 5G end users by deploying networks that rely on secure and reliable suppliers and supply chains globally. Any delay in 5G advancement policies risks losing first-mover advantages in the 5G investment cycle. Being the first to deploy 5G is not just an economic reward, it’s a significant step towards a secure ecosystem.
The government has a big role to play in 5G security
We believe that the primary role of government in promoting the safety of 5G deployments is to keep its focus and resources behind strong collaborative efforts between government and industry.
Many public-private collaborative efforts are already in place to help ensure a secure 5G network. The Department of Homeland Security’s ICT Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) Task Force illustrates how collaboration between industry and government can quickly and efficiently deliver useful, shareable, and action-oriented advice. experts in complex areas such as supply chain and 5G security. Ericsson is actively engaged in this effort, understanding and assessing supply chain threats and developing a common vendor model for SCRM.
Safety goes far beyond products. That’s why we contribute to several US-based industry initiatives aimed at ensuring secure 5G solutions and a high-integrity supply chain. These include the Communications Sector Coordinating Council (CSCC) and its Cybersecurity Committee, the CTIA Cybersecurity Task Force, the Council to Secure the Digital Economy (CSDE), and several groups work within the ATIS standardization body.
Ericsson is also active on the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) of the Federal Communications Commission, which provides security policy recommendations. Ericsson is involved in three CSRIC VII working groups, including:
- Managing security risks in the transition to 5G
- Managing security risks in emerging 5G implementations and
- 911 security vulnerabilities during IP transition
Standards work is another key part of security assurance, as it provides guidance and frameworks that ensure that security and privacy requirements are consistently met. These efforts help industry and government collaborate more efficiently, productively, and more quickly on 5G security, both domestically and internationally. 5G security standards and 5G supply chain standards are still under development, and Ericsson is helping shape them for long-term security.
A call to action: what needs to happen now
The US government must remain alert to factors that could help or hinder the deployment of 5G.
Ericsson believes that the accelerated deployment of 5G in the United States will in turn protect the security of the 5G supply chain, a goal that can be achieved by increasing the availability of spectrum, especially in the midband, by implementing introduce reasonable and streamlined siting rules for small cells, developing and deploying a skilled workforce in towers and ensuring effective incentives to encourage 5G deployment in rural areas.
Continued attention to these issues plays an important role. For example, the Senate Commerce Committee recently held a hearing on 5G supply chain security.
I was honored to be one of the witnesses who testified. This was an opportunity to highlight Ericsson’s work and help educate senators on these critical issues. I encouraged the holding of additional hearings to deal with issues related to 5G.
While steps are already being taken in the right direction, Ericsson looks forward to continuing to work with the US government to keep the 5G world safe.
Check out our guide to 5G network security.
Read our whitepaper.
Learn more about the 5G network.