5G Expanded Services: Blessing, Threat, or Both?

5G Expanded Services: Blessing, Threat, or Both?

Next-generation mobile technologies such as ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), high speed enhanced mobile broadband (EMBB) and the deployment of the multi-access edge cloud (MEC) are enabling both enterprise-specific applications and services as well as enhanced end-user services and experiences—key revenue targets for mobile operators.

These new services combined with the burgeoning Internet of Everything are bringing an evolutionary shift in connected devices and 5G usage.

But these new services also are attracting the attention of attackers. DDoS activity has skyrocketed since 5G non-standalone (NSA) networks started going live, and carriers now are beginning to deploy 5G standalone (SA) networks, giving attackers an even larger attack surface with higher-value targets.

What's the Risk for 5G Service Providers?

The greatest threats for providers of 5G services are network availability/downtime problems, loss of data, and inability to meet regulatory or compliance dictates. Although all three are of concern, service providers are especially concerned with DDoS attacks and threats that directly impact network availability.

The entire purpose behind DDoS attacks is to disrupt and deny a service. It’s no secret that 5G service providers are banking on those networks to deploy new services and improve the bottom line. But when those services are disrupted by attacks, 5G customers—especially enterprise customers—feel the greatest impact.

And enterprise customers are definitely concerned about the security of 5G networks, as evidenced by Accenture’s recent survey of more than 2,600 business decision-makers. 35 percent of those business leaders expressed concern about 5G security, and 62 percent said 5G will leave them more vulnerable to attacks.

Just How Bad Is It?

Communications service providers (CSPs) are no strangers to DDoS attacks, as the latest NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report shows. CSPs make up four of the top 10 targets for DDoS attacks, accounting for more than 384,000 attacks in 1H 2021.

Three areas of specific concern for 5G service providers are:

  • Expanded services enabled by 5G: This includes new services on 5G networks, as well as the increased traffic that will be generated by an uptick of connected mobile devices.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT device growth is astronomical, with every connected device generating a larger attack surface for attackers to target.
  • 5G standalone (SA) core: 5G SA networks are in the infancy of deployment, and they enable services such as enhanced mobile broadband (embb) and massive machine type communication (mmtc)—making them even more attractive to attackers.

What Can CSPs Do to Stop Attackers?

The good news is that CSPs have ways to mitigate DDoS attacks and other threats against 5G networks.

To learn more about the threats being targeted against 5G networks and how to protect against them, download our white paper 5G: A Blessing and a Curse. You can also reach out to us today for an analysis of your 5G networks and how to best protect them against attacks.