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5G mobile networks report

5G mobile networks could bring autonomous vehicles, virtual reality gaming, and mobile download speeds of a gigabyte a second; but is security equal to it? A report calls for a new way to predict and pre-validate 5G network connections, leveraging mobile AI based autonomous network technologies – from mobile phones and smart industrial machines, to health monitoring devices and smart home consumer devices. The networks need to quickly and efficiently recognise these devices and confirm that they are secure without compromising user experience.

A completely secure network – whether against denial-of-service attacks or to prevent an attacker from impersonating a user to fraudulently obtain services for free – will never be possible, the report warns, and the highest risk attaches to driverless cars, and tele-medicine. Servers must be stored at secure locations.

The authors – from the Fifth Generation (5G) testbeds – call for an organisation to be tasked to help monitor and encourage good security-by-design practice, and set out and document an approach to designing secure 5G networks.

You can download the report at the UK5G website.

Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Founding Director of the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, said: “We are expecting the first 5G enabled services to come to market next year and we are already doing significant work across the UK test beds – the benefits of being prepared for what 5G offers are clear for all to see. Performance risk in such a complex network means that we need to reconsider many of our digital security processes. We believe that with the sound recommendations made in this paper, the UK will be in a good position to continue our leadership position in 5G innovation, development and deployment.”

Peter Claydon, AutoAir (testbed for transport use of 5G) Project Director, said: “Since the age of 2G, mobile networks have been some of the most secure things on the planet, helped by the fact that each one is controlled by a single network operator. 5G opens up mobile networks, allowing network operators to provide ‘slices’ of their networks to customers. Also, customers’ data can be offloaded and processed at the edge of the network, without going through the secure network core. This report is a timely reminder of the security challenges that these new features raise.”

Mark Stansfeld, Chairman of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium (testing industrial use cases) said: “The Worcestershire 5G Testbed is part of the national drive to achieve Industry 4.0 and revive British industry by using 5G to improve national output. We’re privileged to work alongside partners such as 5GIC and AWTG in the common pursuit to create a more connected, creative and dynamic economy. As part of this, we’re working with QinetiQ to advance cyber security application and provide assurances on the ‘security by design’ for the 5G network.”

Robert Driver, Head of UK5G, said: “When UK5G was launched back in April at BT Tower, the term ‘purposeful innovation’ – coined by Tim Whitley of BT – perfectly described the aims of the 5G programme. Purposeful innovation is at the heart of the pioneering work being carried out by the 5G trials being conducted across the UK funded by the DCMS, and involving close collaboration between many organisations. This technical paper, led by the University of Surrey 5G Innovation Centre, includes three of the DCMS funded Phase 1 trials, and is a great example of such strong collaboration.

“The paper highlights the challenges and inevitable trade-offs between cost, security and performance in the development and deployment of 5G. In a new environment of multiple use cases, each with different performance requirements, along with the expected introduction of new market players, alignment and cooperation between parties will be essential. Systems need to be ‘secure by design’ and new approaches, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be required.”


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