5G security is unlike anything you’ve seen before

We are going to have to think differently than during previous transitions if we are to successfully meet the network demands of a Networked Society. This is because 5G is different. 5G systems are the next step in the evolution of mobile communication and they will need to provide capabilities not only for voice and data communication as we know it today, but also for new use cases and new industries. The new wave of smart, connected devices and applications will bring with them as-yet-unknown security issues.

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Research will play a crucial role in making 5G secure. As Professor of the Department of Electronics (within the School of Information and Communication Technology) at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Stockholm, I have been collaborating with Ericsson on a project about 5G security.

Our goal is to produce high-quality research that will help meet the growing demands of end-users, businesses and society in general for trustworthy mobile communication networks – in which security and privacy of data and information is assured. We have published 12 peer-reviewed articles with applications to selected security challenges, relevant for 5G. We also published a white paper on 5G security, which provides a more general introduction to the overall 5G security landscape. This includes new security requirements arising out of new service delivery models, an evolved threat landscape, and an increased focus on privacy – not to mention new trust models.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel as many previous design approaches are still valid. For example, the 3GPP approaches to 3G and 4G – which brought the industry highly secure radio and core network protocols, subscriber authentication and more – are largely still valid. But there must also be new considerations for 5G security design to meet growing demands for security and privacy.

In our article Protecting IMSI and Subscriber Privacy in 5G Networks, we present a new method for protecting the IMSI by means of establishing a pseudonym between the user equipment and the home network. This article was published in conjunction with the 2nd IEEE International Workshop on 5G Security in connection to Mobimedia, Xian, China June 2016.

Please read more in our 5G security white paper, where we discuss new security requirements associated with the 5G network and how they should be approached.

Elena Dubrova
Professor dept. of electronics, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
Guest researcher, Ericsson Research.

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