Omar Mansour, NetNumber Lead Architect Omar Mansour

This week, Omar Mansour chaired the Network Security Focus Day at 5G MENA. He shares his insights from the day.

5G is viewed as a key game-changer for the telecommunications market in the MENA region. There’s a strong belief the entire industry must start thinking about and accepting new methods of communication and new types of traffic beyond traditional calls, SMS and subscriber data usage traffic.

While the industry does not yet know what types of security attacks to expect once 5G is in place, operators realize that their security departments need to get ready. They need to use what they know so far and plan to act quickly to protect their networks against new threats expected as 5G matures.

Scalability and reliability in 5G are mandatory. The traditional capacities of millions of SIMs connected will turn into billions of SIMs in which everything is talking to everything through the networks. The behavior of sensors and other devices with SIMs is expected to be unpredictable. For example, one application or enterprise may have just a few thousand SIMs that could cause signaling storms in the network. Provisioning simplicity and centralization needs to take place all the way from the RAN to the small systems in a 5G network as speed and latency will be important factors for new services enabled by 5G.

In 4G and data broadband networks, there are many advanced attacks already happening. One operator discussed an attack in which hackers managed to shut down all power generation in a particular district they serve. More than 80K customers were impacted. The Mirai Botnet generated an attack of around 1TB bandwidth, which wreaked havoc in many systems. And DYN on DNS services caused thousands of websites to stop responding.

Given the threat landscape, standardization when it comes to security solutions happens too late. The industry needs to be ready to act immediately before and after standards define a solution.

Operators recognize the need to inventory their assets so departments for security, planning, operations, etc. know how and what to protect. With 5G, assets are going to keep growing, and need to be managed. To do so, operators require advanced methods and techniques to perform proper and well-constructed security testing and auditing in 5G networks, assuming different scenarios and types of communications from different devices and business streams.

There was some agreement the industry will face challenges specially in two areas: security and data analysis. Operators will need to handle unstructured data in ways different than they do today. For example, social networking, instant messaging, cars communications, health communications will not follow traditional “rules.” Operators are looking to industry to help identify new methods for detecting threats in unstructured data.

But security cannot be a bottleneck to services. Much of the traffic that will go through a carrier network will require low latency. Traditional security appliances and high-latency solutions will not work. New and advanced techniques need to be considered.

If you attended 5G MENA, we hope you’ll share your perspective below. And if you are looking for robust signaling security solutions, contact to learn more about how we are helping operators around the globe identify and mitigate known and unknown threats.

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