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Spirent 5G Blog Series: Be Secure

5G poised to kick mobile network security threats into high gear



We know that carrier 5G deployment timetables are accelerating. Though the path ahead is anything but clear as any number of hard deployment questions and challenges have yet to be addressed. We’ve covered many of them in this blog series, but one challenge looms potentially greater than all: security.

There’s just no way around it, 5G will demand that operators prioritize security. That’s because the massive increase in connected devices and pervasive use of virtualization with edge and cloud distributions will exacerbate 5G security threats and broaden attack surfaces. But there are solid strategies being formed to help assure your 5G deployment will be secure.

Assuring 5G cybersecurity

The very things that make 5G possible—virtualization, migration to the cloud, network slicing, IoT, and even 5G gateways—are also potential vulnerabilities. Then there are the added risks from agile software development processes that, in times of a rush to market, raise the risk that code is deployed that has not been adequately tested. Vigilance is absolutely critical if the industry is to stay ahead of the changing 5G threat landscape.

What’s needed is a robust security testing strategy that incorporates continuous testing and auditing to pre-emptively identify vulnerabilities and prioritize risk mitigation. Both operators and equipment manufacturers need comprehensive security test plans.

A successful testing strategy must:

  • Reflect real-world conditions
  • Emulate brute force attacks
  • Quickly find and fix vulnerabilities
  • Identify, analyze and prioritize the risks

Elements of a robust 5G security strategy

With increasingly sophisticated security threats and a broadened 5G attack surface, advanced security solutions must perform under growing and increasingly complex user traffic. They must also emulate “rainy day” scenarios to attempt to break the systems under test and identify vulnerabilities across the end-to-end service lifecycle.

Examples of security tests needed for 5G include:

  • Fuzzing: Use massive amounts of random and mutating data to attempt to make the test subject crash
  • DDoS attacks: Overwhelm the test subject with tens of millions of packets per second of illegitimate traffic coming from multiple sources
  • Encryption: Test the robustness of encryption technologies
  • Malware: Test 5G firewalls and security gateways
  • Performance: Test performance under real-world conditions and overloads

Many of these tests are done piecemeal today on existing networks, but a new generation of automated, continuous test solutions are required to support the complex and dynamic nature of 5G.

Will your 5G deployment be secure?

Thoughtful and practical cybersecurity planning and testing will enable you to safely accelerate your journey to 5G while minimizing risks.

Follow our 5G blog series and download our Accelerate 5G white paper to learn more about how 5G Network Validation, DevOps Continuous Testing, and 5G Cybersecurity testing will cost-effectively accelerate your journey to 5G.

Check back for more 5G test and assurance insights and join in the conversation by contacting us below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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