5G is adopted by consumers and businesses worldwide because it supports faster speeds with lower latency. Everyone benefits. However, as 5G use cases increase, bad actors in cyberattacks prowl around waiting to strike, and mobile operators need to prepare their defense strategies. The job isn’t easy when new security requirements continue to roll out and the cybersecurity skill shortage remains a reality.
SecurityGen is a provider of security solutions and services for the telecom industry. The company knows the importance, and challenges, of cybersecurity for mobile operators and offers cybersecurity warnings and suggestions to help operators stay protected in 2023, especially with their 5G networks.
5G is designed to be flexible and open for integration with multiple external systems. However, this makes 5G vulnerable. Operators need to maximize 5G's advanced functionality and interoperability while also recognizing this vulnerability and minimizing the threats arising from 5G's extra openness compared to previous network generations.
"Operator security teams must be mindful of the new, unique security challenges specific to 5G while at the same time not losing sight of the threats inherited by legacy technologies within 5G's set up," said SecurityGen Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Dmitry Kurbatov.
One of the bigger use cases seen with 5G is smart cities. 5G is vital for smart cities. It offers more device density, which allows for air quality monitoring, energy use, traffic patterns, street lighting, smart parking, crowd management and emergency response – things that make life easier for people in that specific city.
Well, this makes telecom networks critical to national infrastructure and a priority target for cyberattacks.
And, as more cities and people adopt 5G, roaming traffic volume between 5G networks increases. The thing is most of the extra roaming traffic goes through non-standalone 5G networks that use legacy technology. 5G is vulnerable to threats originating from non-5G networks carried in non-5G network traffic.
Mobile operators need to have proper security measures in place. Against these threats, particularly 5G-related threats, operators need to strengthen the security and resilience of their 5G networks. SecurityGen and Kurbatov offer these tips:
- Make the security of 5G network as much of a commercial and operational priority as its performance in terms of speed, throughput and coverage. Security is more efficient and cost-effective when it is built-in across the entire system and not just a patch on the surface.
- Adopt a defense-in-depth approach based on continual network-wide assessments and monitoring. Regular security checks, continuous analysis and other established cybersecurity methods fine-tuned for the telecom environment provide the level of detail and in-depth scrutiny that's needed to ensure a 5G network is secure.
- Extensive and ongoing training is essential. With training, operator security teams can explore and stay up to date with the latest cyberthreats as well as identify new vulnerabilities when they emerge.
"Telecom security requires a comprehensive strategic approach along with collaboration between ecosystem players,” said Kurbatov. “Operators and their industry partners should cooperate closely with governments and regulators to ensure cybersecurity receives attention and investment to protect users and ensure that networks remain safe, secure and resilient."
Mobile operators need to take important security measures to defend their networks and protect customers.
Edited by Greg Tavarez