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What is 5G security?

What is 5G security?

The term 5G refers to fifth-generation wireless mobile networks. 5G security is designed for 5G network systems, which operate via different infrastructure than 4G or 3G operating systems.

Why is 5G advantageous from a security perspective?

  • 5G security makes it more challenging for threat actors to target and manipulate individual device connections
  • 5G systems allow for greater data encryption

What types of cyber security attacks can still occur despite the use of 5G networks?

  • Cyber attacks known as ‘fake base station attacks’ can coax devices into registering an attacker’s device as a nearby cell tower. When the targeted device attempts to connect, attackers can worm their way into victim’s device. 
  • Attacks that are similar to SIM jacking can occur.[1]

What are the security and privacy challenges that come with implementing 5G?

  • 5G introduces expanded attack surfaces due to the increase in connectivity.
  • Integration of 3G networks into 4G networks means that privacy may be compromised.
  • Admins and IT professionals will need to develop new means of device authentication.
  • Developing adequate perimeter security.
  • Mistakes in the set-up of 5G networks can introduce unintended vulnerabilities to systems.
  • Consumers have little to no visibility into how companies are or aren’t protecting their privacy within 5G networks.
    Certain best practices may not actually be implemented due to cost barriers or other forms of operational friction.[2],[3]

In what other ways are 5G networks vulnerable?

  • 5G networks rely on software-defined digital routing, rather than hardware-based distribution. In a software defined network, fewer check points for inspection and control exist.
  • Despite the potential to lock down software vulnerabilities within the network, we also need to be sure that the software managing the network is properly secured. Any cyber criminal who obtains access to the ‘parent’ software can control the entire 5G network.
  • 5G expands bandwidth, but conversely, creates additional attack vectors.
  • Unsecured or under-secured IoT-enabled devices connected to a 5G network can provide hackers with a means of sneaking onto systems.[4]

How can organizations that rely on 5G networks ensure its security?

  • Install the latest patches, and/or software updates.
  • Obtain security with a high degree of visibility. This is critical due to the fast pace at which data moves across 5G networks.
  • Implementing automation can assist with eliminating risks.
  • Organizations should take care to address IoT vulnerabilities, as IoT devices present major weaknesses on 5G networks.
  • Create a zero-trust environment. Zero-trust presents a strategic means of identifying and authenticating devices on networks.
  • Update third-party network access lists, and ensure that only current vendors can access your network (if needed).
  • For organizations that are short-staffed, a managed service provider can assist with ensuring adequate security.[5]
  • Stay up to date with 5G security standards and best practices.








[1] 5G Security: How Concerned Should we be? Ian Heritage, ITProPortal, February 28, 2020

[2] 5G is More Secure than 4G and 3G—Except When It’s Not, Lily Hay Newman, Wired, December 15 2019

[3] How to Navigate Cybersecurity in a 5G World? Macy Bayern, TechRepublic, November 11, 2019

[4] Why 5G requires new approaches to cybersecurity, Tom Wheeler and David Simpson, Brookings, September 3, 2019.

[5] How to Navigate Cybersecurity in a 5G World? Macy Bayern, TechRepublic, November 11, 2019