5G networks are currently deployed across the globe by telecom operators and private enterprises. The 5G network is more complex than the previous generation of networks. With its Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (uRLLC) and Massive IOT capabilities, 5G supports new use cases such as virtual reality, tele surgery, autonomous transport, industry automation and connecting billions of devices.
5G networks are currently deployed across the globe by telecom operators and private enterprises. The 5G network is more complex than the previous generation of networks. With its Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive IoT capabilities, 5G supports new use cases such as virtual reality, telesurgery, autonomous transport, industrial automation, and connecting billions of devices.
5G rollout also comes with numerous security concerns. Virtualization of network functions may lead to vulnerabilities such as denial of service. Software Defined Networks (SDN) are prone to attacks such as control plane threats, forwarding device attacks, API vulnerabilities, fake traffic flows, etc. 5G network attacks may even begin with exploiting the vulnerabilities in previous-generation networks. 5G core uses service-based architecture utilizing microservices deployed in cloud infrastructure. Microservices and the APIs connecting them also can open doors for attacks.
5G security is sufficiently addressed with new security frameworks such as SASE (Secure Access Secure Edge) or Zero Trust Security for the known vulnerabilities. However, with the wide variety of new 5G devices and millions of IoT devices introduced in the market with considerably fewer security features, the attack surface and vulnerabilities are also expanding.
Understanding the business impact of security breaches, simulating security threats, and planning mitigation approaches are vital for successful 5G network operations. The essential first step would be to build a comprehensive threat model to assess the network and applications’ risks and recognize the consequences of not addressing the risks. After formulating a threat model, the next important step in securing a 5G network would be to perform 5G penetration testing. Developing a comprehensive 5G security strategy is integral to the 5G deployment and validation. It must include security analysis and extensive cybersecurity testing across the supply chain, including all layers (i.e., hardware, operating system, applications, APIs, protocols), ensuring baseline security of 5G infrastructure.
Security & Vulnerability Assessment involves scanning 5G network components, devices, and applications.
5G cybersecurity assessment involves
- Assessment of systems for compliance with regulations and standards
- Gap analysis to unveil security holes
- Assessment of insider and external threat
- Assessment of active defenses and systems hardening
- Cybersecurity patching
Information Assurance Testing involves the assessment of an organization’s security policies and procedures for operating the 5G network. It is performed using industry best practices and frameworks.
Penetration Testing is focused on the non-radio parts of the network, such as IP, network, and physical security, and tests the resilience of the 5G network security. It involves hacking, testing, and identifying vulnerabilities in networks and applications to secure them from unauthorized access.
Security Compliance Testing involves security evaluation against relevant security standards such as 3GPP Security Assurance Specifications.
Automated Network Testing involves identifying common security issues such as unpatched software, unencrypted links, poor network addressing, etc. This testing is performed using automated network security tools on the 5G network.
Public Key Security Testing involves validating Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that uses cryptographic public keys linked to a digital certificate to authenticate devices or users. PKI certificates play a vital role in establishing and securing IoT devices, providing a high level of control and enabling large-scale device authentication, integrity, and reliable encryption.
5G security spans applications, network functions, transport layers, and cloud environments. Hence a holistic approach to testing is key to addressing security challenges and requirements. However, many network operators need help to build CI/CD pipelines and automated test suites to conduct comprehensive security testing, requiring 3rd party specialist testing service providers. Tsaro labs is a specialist security testing service provider with domain experts in cybersecurity and telecom network and applications.