How to Advance 5G Network Security

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can proactively detect and deflect device compromise related to a DDoS attack, fraud, or data theft.

Black background and blue earth with images of device types, subscribers bursting out

Protecting the network edge calls for an advanced security detection engine that has the capacity to scale and to provide end-through-end observability from RAN to core to the data center edge.

5G networks are different from 4G networks. The infrastructure of the 5G network is disaggregated and requires ultralow latency and high bandwidth. In this dynamic environment, bad security actors can easily take advantage of the network.  Research shows 79 percent of businesses believe 5G will have a significant impact on their organization; 24 percent felt the same about 4G. With the agility and flexibility of the 5G network, 62 percent of businesses are concerned 5G will leave them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Diagram compromised user plane devices

Mobile Network Attacks: When Normal Isn’t Valid

The classic cycle of protection systems has evolved to provide good security measures for mobile networks and services, helping to make them inherently secure and to exhibit efficient use of traditional detection mitigation techniques. However, when a valid service that is attached to the network starts performing abnormally, it can create a massive challenge. One example is infected Internet of Things (IoT) or handset devices acting abnormally in the network due to a bad actor’s activities. These devices will infect other devices, and subsequently, data will be redirected to unknown servers. This type of 5G network security event can create signaling challenges within the 5G network and exhaust other network resources, and they are expensive for the carrier’s business to resolve.

Carriers Securing the Mobile Edge

5G networks have an ecosystem in which enterprises and carriers converge to provide reliable services at the mobile network edge to realize the capabilities of edge computing fully and to support consumer services and applications. Enterprises expect specific service level agreements (SLAs) to include built-in threat detection for services and network slices. Consumers of edge services need to be assured they will experience reliable and secure services. Carriers must embed the needed 5G network security to support all subscribers.

Advanced Security Detection Engine

Protecting the network edge calls for an advanced security detection engine that has the capacity to scale and to provide end-through-end observability from RAN to core to the data center edge.

Carriers must consider observability from the onset to ensure network threat mitigation at key points within the network: endpoint, RAN/backhaul, and services. When attacks are experienced at the edge, it is too late to mitigate the 5G network security issue. Using only edge data will not provide a complete view from within the network to correlate and map complex control plane and user plane information back from endpoint IP addresses to the subscriber, device type, location, and so forth.

In addition, the complexity and agility of the 5G network environment make it very difficult for humans to discern valid device behavior and to proactively determine device compromise related to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, fraud, or data theft.

What to Consider for Advanced Security in 5G Mobile Networks

Carriers should review the following elements when considering 5G network security:

  • Packet-level data to feed artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms
  • Specific AI/ML algorithms to determine device performance
  • Security domain knowledge
  • Key monitoring points within the network

In a disaggregated 5G network, carriers must consider observability from the onset to mitigate endpoint threats within the network. NETSCOUT offers a robust solution with Visibility Without Borders—a real-time network platform for performance, security, and availability at scale.

Watch the video “Advancing 5G Network Security with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.”

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