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Indigenous technology to protect 5G networks from zero-day attacks

A new indigenous software technology solution can now proactively detect and prevent zero-day vulnerability attacks in the 5G networks thereby reducing the network downtime. This can help smoothen countrywide communication as 5G networks become its lifeline in the near future.

Around ninety percent of the 5G technology is implemented into software by integrating several latest technologies (NFV, SDN, control plane/user plane segregation) which enable testing the technology easily. But attack surface area is increased multifold in this process and is impossible to manage manually. Automating the whole testing process and continuous monitoring is the only sustainable solution.

Currently majority of the run time zero-day vulnerabilities are identified post attack, thereby creating damage to the brand as well as increasing the cost of recovery.

IITM Pravartak Technologies Foundation at IIT Madras, a Technology Innovation Hub for Sensors, Networking, Actuators and Control Systems (SNACS), supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (NM-ICPS), along with its incubated startup, is developing an indigenous security testing solution for 5G core network functions and Radio Access Network (RAN) software. This technology solution can automatically identify zero-day vulnerabilities in the network in advance by using techniques such as fuzzing and test oracles.

This solution has been manually tested in the 5G security lab of IITM Pravartak. Since it can help avoid the attacks in advance, it protects organisations against loss and saving the credibility of the brands.

The team used ethical hacking for finding vulnerabilities in the system. They tested the functionality issue in the network, created various attack scenarios based on topology, feature interaction, and the number of nodes involved by following the defined 5G standards of 3GPP.

The team is testing interoperability and security issues with multi-vendor products. Tests are conducted at the network packet level, the binary level, the code level and also using the code vulnerability scanners. A combination of all these methods will help reducing zero-day attacks by pre-emption mechanism.

Reducing zero-day vulnerabilities will reduce attack surface area, which in turn will reduce the need to pay ransom and also decrease network downtime of 5G networks which are crucial for communication.

CT Bureau

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