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With 5G, security is top of mind from the start

In this digital age, devices and applications require a wireless network access that is not only fast but also resilient, secure, and able to protect the individual’s right to privacy. The 5G system puts all this front and center.

Mar 28, 2018
 Five properties that contribute to the trustworthiness of the 5G system

The latest white paper from Ericsson, 5G security – enabling a trustworthy 5G system, describes the security of 5G NR and core network. This paper provides an overview of five core properties that build the trustworthiness of the 5G system, namely: resilience; communication security; identity management; privacy; and security assurance. These properties make 5G a reliable platform that enables a range of new services to be created, such as various IoT use cases.

Like its predecessors, 5G is expected to become an integral part of a connected society. 5G security provides a level of trustworthiness that meets the requirements of use cases currently foreseen from the end user, service provider and regulatory perspectives.

This trustworthiness stems not only from a set of security features, but also from system design principles and implementation guidelines that are applied with a holistic and risk-based mindset. In short, 5G security is not an add-on, but built in from the start.

To build a secure system, it is important to take a holistic view and not only focus on individual parts in isolation. This is why various organizations such as the 3GPP, GSMA, ETSI, IETF and ONAP have jointly developed the 5G system, each covering different aspects or focusing on specific parts.

It is also crucial to understand relevant risks, and how to deal with them. The cost of threats materializing must be weighed against the cost of taking countermeasures. This is what the 3GPP does when developing the specifications that constitute the basis for the security of the 5G system.

Milestone: 5G security standardization

3GPP’s security standardization group (SA WG3) has completed the first version of 5G security standard in March 2018 (3GPP TS 33.501). Ericsson has been one of the main drivers and contributors to the 3GPP (SA WG3). Years of pre-standardization research plus nearly two years of standardization work have resulted in this milestone. Ericsson was the rapporteur of a 5G security study (3GPP TR 33.899) which ran from June 2016 to August 2017.

The 5G system will continue to evolve beyond the current release (3GPP Rel 15) with new and enhanced features for diverse use cases such as NR vehicle-to-everything (V2X), Voice-over-NR (VoNR), and enhanced NR LTE coexistence. And 5G security will evolve in concert with – and as a vital part of – the emerging new features of the 5G system.

The 5G security white paper comes on the heels of a recent Ericsson report, The industry impact of 5G, where 79 percent of the respondents from industries mentioned “concerns around data security and privacy” as a barrier to 5G adoption. Moreover, in the 5G Readiness Survey 2017, network security was ranked as the third most essential 5G feature by service providers preparing for 5G deployment.