5G can reduce security risks, but also create them | Jobs Reply

In this interview with Help Net Security, Anubhav Arora, VP of Security Engineering at Cradlepoint, talks about the most common 5G security misconceptions, how to keep the network secure, but also how 5G can benefit businesses.

5G security misconceptions

As 5G connections spread rapidly, more and more questions and misunderstandings are emerging. What are the most common and how can they impact security teams?

5G is a relatively new technology, and many cybersecurity teams have not yet had the time to evaluate how to mitigate its specific vulnerabilities, such as the implementation of network slicing, SIM hijacking, and user location information disclosure. Additionally, there is a common misconception among security teams that 5G is just a data transmission technology.

However, this view does not take into account the significant difference between 5G and other transport protocols, including how 5G can create or reduce risks. 5G is an inherently secure, next-generation technology utilizing cloud-native, service-based architectures, Zero Trust architecture principles, and significant improvements in data confidentiality/privacy. However, in the broader ecosystem that 5G will enable, there are additional components in end-to-end solutions and hence the need to further consider supply chain and API security.

How can companies benefit from 5G technology?

With 5G rollouts well underway and businesses reaping the benefits of the technology, it is becoming increasingly clear that fifth-generation wireless is essential to our modern, digital ecosystem. From encouraging remote work to enabling edge computing to supporting immersive customer experiences, 5G is the foundation for connectivity across diverse industries across our world.

5G meets the business imperatives of availability, interoperability, security, and manageability, all necessary as the company continues to invest in advanced technologies, collect more data, and employ remote workers around the world. Ultimately, companies investing in 5G now are investing in business agility, or the ability to design, build and deliver higher quality solutions to customers – whether business or consumer – faster than ever before. At the very least, 5G for Business will allow wireless networks to compete with broadband connections for the first time in history.

What dangers are associated with 5G technology?

In recent years, the technological specialization of IT and cybersecurity teams has increased. This has reduced understanding of how new and advanced technologies work together – resulting in a set of tools in a single environment and a limited understanding of new risks that may emerge as a result of the influx of technology.

This is especially true as 5G rollouts continue. 5G will continue to solve high value problems for businesses and hence the implementation of the technology will increase. As a result, new vulnerabilities continue to be found as 5G and other technologies – particularly IoT – are implemented together in a single ecosystem. Cybersecurity teams need to understand their entire technology ecosystem to avoid security assessment blind spots.

What methods can threat actors use to exploit 5G and IoT technology?

Threat actors can exploit vulnerabilities by using 5G network connections for lateral movement or as a proxy for initial access to victim organizations.

5G is used as connectivity for a variety of IoT use cases, including IoT management and control platforms accessed with 5G. Because IoT devices and platforms have significantly greater diversity and an expanded attack surface, the risk of compromise on this front is high. It is important that in such cases, the functionality of other mission-critical applications, the 5G network itself, is protected by making decisions based on Zero Trust architectures to create these networks and their interactions. Network slicing and its use in creating end-to-end segmentation can be a powerful defense against attacks, limiting the blast radius and impact of an attack.

What can companies do to secure their 5G and IoT technology?

To ensure secure 5G and IoT technology, companies must first adopt and develop a robust framework based on a Zero Trust architecture. ZTNA plays a significant role in effectively securing the expanding WAN edge attack surface. By combining both 5G solutions with a ZTNA strategy – a 5G zero trust strategy – business users and their devices are continuously monitored and validated throughout their session without the need for repeated logins.

In addition, organizations must first always review, evaluate and evaluate the vendor that provides their product. A safety-oriented mindset is essential. Ask how DevSecOps is implemented, what security features are native to the product, and whether those features integrate well with your organization’s existing technology ecosystem. This includes an integrated next-generation firewall, robust network slicing management, network segmentation, intrusion detection and response, user access policies, and analytics.

And finally, a cybersecurity and IT team that understands that new vulnerabilities are always being introduced as new technologies are brought on board. Errors are not always introduced by 5G but can be developed by other technologies affecting your network. As with any technology, any technology it interacts with will be compromised if the environment contains insecure implementations.

Can you explain 5G network slicing and why is it a problem for businesses?

5G network slicing enables network operators to tailor network services to the unique needs of each organization for specific applications and/or use cases. The network slice itself is a separate, self-contained, and independent part of the network that targets different services with different requirements for speed, latency, reliability, and security.

This virtual segmentation allows organizations to choose the right level of security – paid per slice – for each specific use case desired. For example, IoT devices on a specific network segment or VLAN can be routed on their own slice – enabling segmentation by design and use-case specific security and quality of experience.

5G network slicing can help improve the overall availability of the use case, but is limited to providing confidentiality and integrity protections within the 5G network perimeter. Soon we could use slicing for end-to-end segmentation, enterprise policy-based access, security auditing, and QoE. Even then, the confidentiality and integrity of the data remains the primary responsibility of the company. Should an organization not have proper security practices or strategies in place, doors can be left open for advanced threat actors to compromise data.

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