5G. These threats are lurking.


With the arrival of 5G, it will be possible to experience mobile networks with peak transmission rates exceeding 1Gbpsand 10Gbpswith latency as low as 10ms or even 1ms. Behind the excitement, however, the hidden security threats will be untenable.

Protocol vulnerability is the most scary

Like 3G and 4G networks, the existing 5G also uses a protocol called Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA) for authentication, a security specification that allows users to trust each other. However, security researchers have pointed out that this protocol will expose at least two major vulnerabilities after being applied to 5G.

The first vulnerability is that an attacker can use the AKA protocol to locate and track nearby phones. The second vulnerability is that vulnerable versions of AKA may cause some users to be charged maliciously when using 5G networks. Fortunately, since 5G is still in its infancy, it seems that it is still too late to find and update the 5G protocol standard.

In fact, any communication protocol now, including LTE, no matter how powerful its security system is, or how complex the encryption algorithm is, as long as there is a single edge threat or insecure feature. The security of the entire system is likely to be disrupted in an instant.

For example, a loophole at the protocol level is as dangerous and far-reaching as a security hazard when laying the foundation for a building.

5G attack surface will explode

A recent IoT analysis predicts that by 2025, the number of IoT devices will increase from the current 7 billion to 21.5 billion. The surge in IoT devices will cause the attack surface to expand to an unimaginable level in the 5G era.

Moreover, compared with 3G and 4G, 5G, as a new generation mobile network, has to build more dense base stations in some scenarios in order to obtain high data rate, high quality of service and very low latency.

All of these have made mission-critical applications more accessible, and have made factories, enterprises, and public critical infrastructure more dependent on 5G data connections, invisibly exposing more of the attack surface of mobile networks.

In recent years, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, blackmail encryption hijacking and other security threats have increased exponentially, confirming from another perspective that the 5G attack surface will only be a growing number of problems.

Can you imagine recruiting a zombie army for a DDoS attack when some factories gradually start using Internet of things sensors and connect to a 5G mobile network?

Bypass attacks should not be underestimated

In addition, in the future, 5G applications in various scenarios will be adopted. 5G will adopt network slicing technology, and typical slicing includes large-scale Internet of Things, mission-critical Internet of Things and enhanced mobile broadband.

However, 5G slicing may not only be the three typical slices, but will also introduce different network slices that are customized for specific services, and even virtual operators will define their own slices.

However, different slices require different network reliability and security, and because of the coexistence of multiple slices on the same physical network, they are more vulnerable to bypass attacks.

Note: Network slicing refers to the sharing of physical resources of the network, and cuts out multiple logically independent virtual networks for different application scenarios, and is managed and controlled by the system management program.

So what is a bypass attack? Popularly speaking, there is a way to attack the path without taking the road.

And the official definition from cryptography refers to those who can bypass the cumbersome analysis of encryption algorithms, and use the hardware implementation of cryptographic algorithms to realize the leaked information, such as execution time, power consumption, electromagnetic radiation, and so on. And combine the statistical theory to crack the cipher way.

This is like a timing attack where an attacker can infer a key by analyzing the time execution of an encryption algorithm.

With the bypass attack, the attacker can also infer the code running law in "Slice 2" by understanding the code running rules in the virtual machine in 5G "Slice 1", and then launch an attack on "Slice 2". In this case, 5G slices need to deploy a careful isolation mechanism, especially the isolation between virtual machines.


The development of 5G is unstoppable, however, with the failure of traditional security protocols, the continuous expansion of attack surface and the unstoppable bypass attack, the hidden trouble has been buried in the 5G deployment road.

And these hidden dangers like 5G body "time bomb", do not know when will explode to cause damage. So before the 5G commercial coming, whether or not to discover the loophole in advance and start to "bomb", this time the "5G test" is not simple.

5G coming threatening lurking.

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