The most secure foundation for digitalizing enterprises

Communication service providers (CSPs) are ideally positioned to become security champions for digital business thanks to their ability to provide the best possible foundation for secure network services and critical infrastructure – both today and in the future.

The most secure foundation for digitalizing enterprises

Chief Product Security Officer

Chief Product Security Officer

Category & Hashtags

Security is a critical enabler of the digital enterprise. Previous mobile network generations have laid the foundation for the most secure communications platform based on global standards – 5G. With 5G, CSPs have access to enhanced security standards and features to meet the demands of new use cases, putting them in a unique position to help enterprises digitalize in a way that is not only efficient, but also highly secure.

While the pandemic has raised awareness about the value of networks in terms of enabling collaboration and innovation despite lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, the critical role they play in providing security is often overlooked. Many enterprises don’t realize, for example, that the network platform has been carefully designed to ensure strong baseline security for all connected use cases. In fact, the network platform is characterized by high end-to-end trustworthiness in all major dimensions: resilience, communication security, identity management, privacy and security assurance.

Fig 1. Five properties enhancing trustworthiness in 5G

Fig 1. Five properties enhancing trustworthiness in 5G

Enabling secure, connected digital enterprises

There is no doubt in my mind that the safest and most efficient way for enterprises to digitalize and become more connected is by building on top of the strong security foundation offered by telco networks. Unlike competing technology providers, the telco industry has been shaped over decades by international standardization processes such as the 3GPP, as well as being strongly regulated by governments across the planet. As a result, security has always been a top priority.

When enterprises transform, security must always be a key consideration. It’s important to remember that beyond standardized features, what essentially determines the security of a network is the security of the products, deployments and configurations of the networks, as well as operational procedures.

The robust security of telco networks is based on strong identities (traditionally based on physical SIM cards), strong encryption for user data, and hardware-based security in equipment such as radio base stations. 5G includes an extensive list of improvements that further enhance the privacy and security of network users, as well as strengthening protection of the network itself.

Fig 2. 3GPP standard security improvements introduced in 5G Release 15

Fig 2. 3GPP standard security improvements introduced in 5G Release 15

Lessons from the experience of 3G/4G

The robust, high-performing mobile connectivity provided by 3G/4G technology played a key role in the rise of social media and new digital platforms – Google Maps, Spotify, YouTube, Uber, Wolt/Foodora, AirBnB, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and so on – that have changed human behavior in fundamental ways. These earlier generations of mobile technology also contributed to the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT).

As exciting and beneficial as many of these new developments were, however, it has become increasingly clear over time that security was not always top of mind in the process of creating them, resulting in a variety of challenging security and privacy issues. Thankfully, these issues have been carefully considered in the process of developing 5G, giving us the opportunity to change the world in more security-aware manner going forward.

Enhancing security and privacy with 5G

The many lessons that CSPs have learned from 3G and 4G deployments make them ideally suited to play a key role as connectivity providers for the IoT. The transition from 4G to 5G makes it possible for CSPs to expand beyond keeping voice communication and business data secure to providing a holistic solution to security that encompasses entire business and/or other operational processes. With 5G, CSPs can secure everything, everywhere, all the time.

The advanced edge capabilities in 5G offer an opportunity to implement some of the basic security features to be served from the network, making it much easier for enterprises to start their IoT journey safely. 5G network platforms are based on recognized and proven 3GPP security standards and leverage new innovative approaches such as network slicing and service-based architecture. As such, they provide the optimal foundation for secure network services and critical infrastructures.

A good example of how the strengths of different players can be used most effectively is Daimler’s Factory 56 – the world’s first 5G-enabled automobile factory. All production systems and machines in the newly-build Factory 56 will be connected and operated via a secure 5G private network built together with Telefónica and Ericsson. Private 5G networks like this one are able to provide a high level of security due to the inherent strengths of mobile networks in terms of strong authentication of connected clients, encryption and integrity protection of data.

No better partner than a CSP

From my point of view as a security geek, it’s hard to think of a more suitable partner than a CSP for any enterprise that is embarking on a digital transformation journey. Who could be better at guiding an enterprise through this transformation than a company that has been securely running networks on a massive scale for decades?

Enterprises need to know that the complexity that results from diversifying network topologies and a growing number of use cases increases the likelihood of security gaps. Their best bet for spotting those gaps early is to work with a partner that has seen a few generations of mobile communication technologies firsthand and has experience overcoming previous network-related security challenges.

Let’s get to work

Security is an essential component of any digital business model. Based on global standards and the strong foundation established by previous mobile network generations, 5G offers enterprises of all kinds the opportunity to leverage the most secure communications platform the world has ever seen. With 5G, CSPs are uniquely positioned to serve as security champions for digital business, providing the foundation for secure network services and critical infrastructure both today and in the future.

Now more than ever before, the existing network platform is demonstrating its value as a highly secure foundation for both innovation and collaboration across a wide range of industries. As we look ahead, beyond the pandemic, the need for secure, fully digital business is clear. The technology – 5G – is available and CSPs have the trust base, know-how and experience to support enterprises on their digital journeys. So let’s get to work, shall we?

Discover more

Read our guide to 5G network security.

Read our whitepaper, 5G security - enabling a trustworthy 5G system.

Learn more about Ericsson Security.

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