Fifth-generation mobile networks or fifth-generation wireless systems, also known as “5G,” are the proposed next telecommunications standards and are likely to appear in the market in 2020. 5G networks are going to be very heterogeneous and complex compared to the current ones but in the same time are expected to meet high-end requirements. Among them, we can highlight an explosion at the number of the connected devices, higher data rates, extra-low latency, ultra-high security.
It’s obvious that each generation of wireless systems had to overcome it’s own set of security challenges. In the 1990s, Global Systems for Mobile communications (GSM) was the first 2nd generation system, used for voice communication. Service providers had to deal with the challenge of protecting the voice calls. 3G and 4G are characterized by faster speeds and mobile access to services based on Internet Protocol (IP). Although these technologies provided better security with encryption for data traffic, more direct cyberattacks via the access of users’ sensitive data emerged.
5G network will link almost every aspect of human life to the Internet by using billions of tiny devices and small sensors. In particular, IoT (Internet Of Things) devices will be more exposed to vulnerabilities as they are resource-constrained and cannot handle advanced encryption or other security measures. Due to the flexibility of the 5G networks and in order to provide low latency and higher data rates, the new architecture will be based on the cloud for storage and computation. The resources of the cloud are shared among several users and they may never be under the control of a single authority. The transfer of the data produced in a 5G system- as well as its mining as to provide the intelligence needed- in a secure way is critical. How severe the impact of the attack can be depends on a number of factors. An attack on a health device e.g. an implant, may jeopardize the patient’s life or an attack on critical infrastructure can lead to a disaster.
As hackers are developing technologically sophisticated ways to attack mobile network services, researchers have to work on developing the adequate solutions against them. Some 5G features can complicate the development of the desired answers. For example, latency and security are relevant as higher level of security results in increased latencies. All this justifies the thought of several scientists that 5G security threats are no harder than those of previous generations, they are primarily different and need to be taken into consideration at the early phase of designing 5G network architecture.
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