Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Just how secure is 5G?

Chris Kelly
Monday 25 February 19

A senior representative from ETSI says that 5G is fundamentally more secure than previous generations

With the 3GPP’s release 15 freshly ratified, mobile network operators around the world are now free to begin launching their non stand alone 5G offerings to consumers.  Over the last few months, the US has stepped up the rhetoric in its war of words against Chinese network equipment provider…

With the 3GPP’s release 15 freshly ratified, mobile network operators around the world are now free to begin launching their non stand alone 5G offerings to consumers. 

Over the last few months, the US has stepped up the rhetoric in its war of words against Chinese network equipment provider, Huawei, claiming that its 5G networks pose a risk to national security. 

That claim was refuted today at MWC 2019, as Adrian Scrassse, Head of 3GPP and CTO at ETSI, told members of the press that 5G was intrinsically more secure than previous generations.  

“Is 5G secure? This may be one of the biggest questions that you see in the press over the next few weeks. It’s a complicated question to answer, but I’m going to try and do so as simply as possible. 

“By design, 5G is more secure than 4G. There are many aspects that we have built into the 5G standard which make it more secure than previous generations,” Scrasse explained.  

“Indeed, the 5G Security Study, which the 3GPP undertook, was completed way before we even started to design the radio. So, we understand the threats, we know where the security weaknesses are, and we fixed them within the development process. We need to ensure careful, thoughtful and meticulous deployment, and we need to make sure that the applications that we run over these networks are also secure. 

“So, from a design point of view, we are doing our best to ensure that 5G is launched as securely as possible, but we need to keep working to make sure that we achieve that aim. 

With Release 15 all but finalised, Scrasse also provided an update on the progress of Release 16, which will enable operators to launch full, stand alone 5G services. 

“Is 5G phase one complete? Yes, pretty much. We did some bits early, we did the bulk of it on time and we did one or two bits a little bit later than we expected, and for that I apologise. 

“Is 5G phase two on target for 2020? Yes, but at the moment we envisage something like a three-month delay,” he concluded.  

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