5G to a multidimensional array of systems, services,

technology is the succeeding step in the development of mobile communication.
5G will not only provide voice and data communication but also provide competencies
for new technologies such as Internet of Things. The main technological enablers such as cloud
computing, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function
Virtualization (NFV) are maturing towards their use in 5G. However, there are unrelenting
security challenges in these technologies besides the growing concerns for user
privacy. In this paper, we provide an overview of the security challenges in
these technologies and the issues of privacy in 5G.


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5G technology, Security, Privacy, SDN,


5G technology aims to produce a more
virtualised, distributed and unsolidified environment comprising different
communication technologies and compute objects. The business ecosystem will
span across different radio technologies and a multi-dimensional array of
virtual components, each owned and operated by different organisations with a
high notch of sharing of physical resources. The dawn of 5G therefore brings
the possibility to reconsider the fragility of our internet as it advances from
a somewhat flat interconnect of systems to a multidimensional array of systems,
services, devices and stakeholders.

transfer protocol (http/https) carries much of the internet traffic, originally
serving web pages, but now more commonly serving data transactions between
software components. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) allow us to connect
different segments of IP networks using secure ‘pipes’. Similarly Secure Shell
(SSH) allows for a secure pipe to be formed to execute software on remote
systems. All of these protocols traditionally allow for secure communication
between devices.

The advent of virtualisation has seen an
even more rapid acceleration of the usages for which our computing power can be
utilised. Efficiency and economic gains are made, and our daily productivity
vastly improved. However, this isn’t achieved without a different fee.
Virtualisation is encompassing to cover almost all aspects of the communication
network. Virtual Machines (VM), Software Defined Radio (SDR), Software Defined
Networking (SDN), network functions virtualisation (NFV) all allow hardware to
become rather generic and controllable by software provided by third parties.

In fact the mainstream discussion to
date with respect to 5G is technologically concentrated. There is a significant
lack of consideration for the next generation applications that could use 5G.
Is it about more video services, multi-angular view 3D TV, distribution of 3D
printing data, Tactile Internet, Internet of Things? What are the next killer
applications / services for which the new 5G capability will enable?

The widespread consideration to use
common-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology tries to restore this economy of scale.
Markets are currently attempting to repurpose consumer technologies for
provision of more capable wireless and networked applications that are
considered critical for the safety and security of our society. This
repurposing can surely benefit our critical services by acquiring the low cost
and technological maturity which has been driven predominantly from the
consumer market. With the current day consideration to adopt COTS in critical
communication applications and the economic justification behind that, it is
likely that this will continue long into the future.

Among many there are two distinct
criteria which are commonly quoted as high level requirements for 5G:

a) Creating a secure, reliable and
dependable internet with zero perceived downtime for service provision

b) User Controlled Privacy

Considering just these two criteria and
the discussion given above with regard to our fragile internet, and the need to
support mission critical communication, we uncover a significant distinction
which should guide on the approach to assure the security and resilience of 5G
infrastructure and the information services which use it.

The first criteria a) relates principally
to the resilience of the 5G infrastructure. By definition, resilience is a
measure of a systems ability to retain its originally intended performance
after being compromised. Compromise in terms of 5G infrastructure could affect
the wired and wireless communication bearers, the virtual components or the
physical networking and virtualisation hardware. Resilience of the data
transfer carried by the 5G infrastructure is also reflected here.

The second criteria b) relates to
information. Information is considered here separately but somewhat linked to
the consideration of data in the first criteria. Information represents the
meaning of data; the facts that the data represents; the value that the data
has once used in the context of it purpose. Therefore the information carried
by the 5G network must be protected in its own context, and not necessarily
rely upon the infrastructure that carried it.

In conclusion, the following challenges
need to be considered / addressed:

A 5G network will
consist of many more degrees of freedom than any other network.

5G is likely to be
adopted by mission critical applications (in some form), which fortify the
safety and security of our society.

Security and resilience
of 5G should be developed from the outset, and not left to be locked on after
first deployments.

Information carried by
a 5G network has a value which will reduce if the 5G network is compromised in
any way.


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