CISO’s Guide to 5G Security: Risks, Resilience and Fortifications – The New Stack

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Cloud Services / Security / Contributed“>Anand Oswal”>

CISO‘s Guide to 5G Security: Risks, Resilience and Fortifications – The New Stack

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2024-05-30 10:00:17

CISO‘s Guide to 5G Security: Risks, Resilience and Fortifications


Cloud Services



By adhering to the tenet of “never trust, always verify” CISOs can more confidently provide an effective defense against cybercrime with a zero trust strategy and framework.

May 30th, 2024 10:00am by

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Whether it be opportunity, efficiency or concern — 5G is top-of-mind for a multitude of reasons. These sentiments are all valid, but more work needs to be done to address and assuage the latter: concern. As organizations embrace the transformative potential of 5G, malicious actors are as well.

We have consistently seen the word “sophisticated” coupled with the type and severity of cyberattacks, and we can certainly expect more of the same — especially as AI integrations proliferate. A key difference 5G brings, however, is empowerment. 5G is expected to contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy over the next 14 years. With this rapid growth, attack surfaces will also monumentally increase — with bad actors empowered more than ever to take advantage.

This change brings an imperative for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to rethink or reshape strategies to ensure to the best of their abilities organizations and the societies they serve are protected from what may be a wave of cybercrime in the near future. If current trends (cybercrime is projected to cost $10.5 trillion in damages by 2025) are any indicator, CISOs must prioritize due diligence, and reliability, and enable security operations centers (SOC) to navigate challenges presented by a massive influx of innovation currently overriding safe implementation. With the haste necessary to get ahead, proactive measures and strategic foresight are critical for a resilient and effective cybersecurity framework in the era of AI and 5G.

Fortifying Private 5G Networks

In a world and era where there’s a perception that most organizations are prioritizing “what’s next” before “now,” CISOs are right in the middle of protecting existing network activity while also being mindful of the rapid adoption of AI-powered technology and 5G capabilities. This juxtaposition is a stark reminder that due diligence is a crucial factor as we sprint at a faster pace than ever. But despite the speed, rushing innovations may lead to oversights, emphasizing the need for meticulous scrutiny across implementation efforts to avert unforeseen risks.

Proactivity is key in fortifying private 5G networks against evolving threats. The consequences are dire if not. While cybercrime increases overall, we are also seeing a steep increase in nation-state attacks where ransomware and extortion methods are used with an aim to impair an organization, network, or infrastructure, whether through delays in business operations, rectifying cost expenditures, or even causing brand and reputational damage. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 30% of critical infrastructure organizations will experience a security breach that will halt operations or mission-critical cyber-physical systems, resulting in what could be a significant impact to business continuity

A strong security posture requires granular visibility into 5G traffic and automated security enforcement to effectively thwart attackers, protect critical services, and safeguard against potential threats to assets and the environment. This includes a focus on detecting and preventing attacks at all layers, interface and threat vector — from equipment (PEI) and subscriber (SUPI) identification, applications, signaling, data, network slices, malware, ransomware and more.

Trust Starts at Zero

To accomplish the task at hand brought about by 5G, CISOs must be prepared to provide a swift response to known and unknown threats in real time with advanced AI and machine learning, automation and orchestration tools. As connotation shifts from viewing 4G as a more consumer-focused mobile network to the power of private 5G when embedded across enterprise infrastructure, any kind of lateral network movement can bring about damage.

Strategy and solution start with zero trust and can go as far as an entire 5G SOC dedicated to the nuances brought about by the next-gen network. The change and progress 5G promises is only as significant as our ability to protect networks and infrastructure from malicious actors, threats, and attacks. By adhering to the tenet of “never trust, always verify” CISOs can more confidently provide an effective defense against cybercrime with a zero trust strategy and framework. This includes eliminating implicit trust by defining asserted identity, verifying user and device identity and providing secure access to the appropriate resource or application.

Ultimately, CISOs must shift mindsets to treat securing 5G akin to securing the cloud to fortify 5G infrastructure against evolving threats. Just as cloud-based infrastructure cannot be looked at or managed in a silo, neither can 5G efforts. For cloud technology, “platformization” has been a boon, particularly for security consolidation where enterprise-grade protection is built in. The same approach, and embracing zero trust, is necessary to secure 5G as well.


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