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5G Perspective

Underestimating the potential security impact of 5G revolution

The flat packet-based architecture of 5G potentially increases a mobile infrastructure’s exposure to cyberattacks.

5G will enhance the power and capacity of mobile networks to better support an end-to-end environment, designed to enable our fully mobile and connected society. Typical use cases for 5G include significantly higher capacity and performance to support enhanced broadband access in dense urban areas, higher user mobility, and the expanding Internet of Things (IoT).

Advances in virtualization, automation, and orchestration, combined with the new networking power of 5G, will also enable data and transactional decision-making to be moved closer to the edge of the mobile network, the edge cloud. The telecommunications industry has already begun to transform its businesses by leveraging these new opportunities at the edge. But they are merely the first. This will be the de facto approach for the next cycle of network computing. 5G connectivity and edge-based computing will enable digital transformation, resulting in exponential improvements in service delivery and productivity for enterprises, and enhanced quality of life and highly customized and personalized experiences for connected consumers and citizens. 5G’s high speed and low latency features also mean always on business models can now be implemented without geographic limitations, far from enterprise data centers or cloud platforms. Ultimately, rather than being exclusively tethered to the cloud, hyperconnected devices with edge clouds will become a new uber-cloud, where applications, data, and services will operate across a meshed edge.

5G implications for security

The flat packet-based architecture of 5G potentially increases a mobile infrastructure’s exposure to cyberattacks, especially as they are now part of the end-to-end IP core infrastructure. This expanded attack surface will be comprised of thousands or even millions of interconnected nodes that can be susceptible to exploitation and abuse.

Because of these vulnerabilities, along with the transition to edge clouds, end-to-end security from the mobile core to the edge is imperative. This will drive the demand for embedding security features and functions directly into the edge as well, far beyond its typical state of being bolted on to the traditional network.

These extended, shifting, and hyperconnected networks require a fabric-based security strategy that goes beyond the isolated security devices and platforms deployed in yesterday’s static networks to cover and adapt to this expanded and evolving network. Achieving this requires protection that is broad, powerful, integrated, and automated, just like the makings of the network it needs to protect.

Organizations cannot afford to wait to build their strategies; they need to begin planning now to ensure they have the technical and human resources in place to support and secure their 5G opportunity, and only a fully coordinated security strategy will be able to protect tomorrow’s highly mobile and dynamic networks, devices, and transactions. Securing the massive amounts of data, networking traffic, and computing resources that 5G brings in will require greater levels of speed and automation than most organizations currently have in place to ensure quality-of-service, expected customer experience, and the adequate protection of data.

Fabric-enabled security platforms not only provide comprehensive visibility, protection, detection, and automated response 5G networks require, they also enable organizations to weave their 5G security strategy back into their larger security framework. This includes the ability to tie mobility, edge cloud, public/private cloud, and traditional security solutions together into a single, seamless, and integrated system that can follow and protect workflows, applications, and services that need to span the network, from mobile device to data center, regardless of where either is located.

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