Today’s infrastructure threats will have major impacts on tomorrow’s 5G commercial networks. 5G network slicing, virtualization and disaggregation introduce new levels of complexity to network security, requiring a high-level of automation in security on-boarding, scale-out and attack mitigation.
5G security is absolutely required to be thought about in a Day 1 network build and ‘weaved’ into the network architecture. Otherwise, the immense job of re-architecting the network afterward will be a cost-prohibitive exercise.
Service providers are faced with a necessary burden of managing security threats in the 5G network.
Your ‘Typical’ Security Solution
A typical network security solution will include several security elements, such as firewalls, DDoS protection devices, IPS/IDS, etc. Each system may require its own domain expertise when it comes to proper configuration and tuning. When a carrier-grade network slice is under attack, dedicated expertise is required for handling changes and setting the proper mitigation actions. With the new paradigm of 5G network slicing coming onto the scene in a highly distributed network, carrier security teams will be challenged.
Service providers are already in a precarious position of creating healthy profit margins with the onslaught of over-the-top data and video traversing their networks. New revenue streams are tough to come by, and so the other lever available to influence margins is cost control. However, the cost economics do not scale well when contemplating an increase in security staff to prepare for 5G. The new attack vectors are just too complex and too high in volume to adequately address with a bloated Security Operations Center (SOC) of just human oversight and management.
What makes more sense is adoption of a comprehensive security solution used across all network slices to benefit from ease of management and SOC skill sets.
Vendor technology designed around the concept of self-learning with respect to threat detection not heavily dependent on pre-configured rules is the ideal toolkit for service providers. Minimal setup and configuration lower the overall carrier security team effort around system operation. Now, instead of manual provisioning and troubleshooting, the SOC specialist can look at a dashboard to see what was detected by the system and what mitigation actions took place to defend against malicious threats to the system. This yields strong visibility into network security threats across all network functions and slices.
In the new 5G security play, the various security functions are on-boarded per slice in alignment to the required network capabilities and desired distribution. The total investment in security computing resources and licenses aligned with the network slice investment allowing carrier better control on the risks and the costs associated with specific network slice.
Automated attack mitigation capabilities provide the security team with ‘peace of mind’ that all ‘war time’ actions are taken care of in automated manner with no manual intervention by security administrators.
So although 5G carries with it very challenging security issues, service providers can be proactive in creating a security posture that gives them the best chance to keep costs in check while keeping the network safe.