By Mike Robuck

Holistic approach to security key for 5G

The multi-vendor approach to 5G open RAN networks is one of the biggest security challenges that operators face.

F-Secure’s Senior Security Consultant, Laura Kankaala told Mobile World Daily operators need to implement security across their supply chains by working tightly with their vendor partners.

Operators also need to foster collaborations in the 5G ecosystem that are based on transparency.

Security comes down to the implementation and quality of the equipment, Kankaala stated. One concern is the backward compatibility requirements, which give space to vulnerabilities from 3G and 4G networks. For example, incorrect implementations could be exploited to downgrade 5G connections to 3G or 4G, which could then be used to compromise the privacy of mobile connections.

To ensure secure connections and devices in 5G networks, operators need to employ encryption, boost their patching capabilities and have secure development practices. She also recommended that operators invite “ethical hackers” to test the 5G devices and software.

“For example, in Finland, we've had a couple of 5G hackathons organised by 5G technology companies and Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom,” said Kankaala.