By Valid’s Mobile Global Team

04/07/2021

How can we solve data privacy concerns related to 5G networks?

5G is already the biggest technological accelerator for IoT use cases and mobile connectivity improvement. Its higher bandwidth and network capacity as well as lower latency will help unleash the potential to bring smarter services closer than ever to the end user.

This means an explosion of growth in mobile traffic and active connected devices worldwide which demands an effective network infrastructure to help deliver the increased volumes of data exchange and assure a trusted environment to do so.

According to Ericsson, 5G is set to reach 3.5 billion subscriptions by 2026, becoming the fastest network to be implemented worldwide. The telecom market needs to prepare themselves to manage the impacts that this tremendous new generation of networks will bring to our everyday lives. 

The 5G network is more flexible than 4G or 3G ever were, bringing impressive new innovations to the ecosystem such as slicing networks, which enable connectivity and data processing tailored to customers’ requirements, and cloud virtualization, which can split the network for any desirable use case. For example, this could help smart city private networks to create and promote ground-breaking services.

While these innovations bring convenience and practicality to consumers, it can also put them at a greater risk for data breaches. Developers nowadays are much more concerned with data privacy which is a result of customer demands and learning from past mistakes made by previous network generations, therefore producing devices with the capability to protect consumers’ sensitive data and avoid common breaches such as DDoS attacks.

With 5G, hardware security will drive the success of new technologies around the network. Tamper-proof products that protect access to this new network, such as 5G SIMs, will help assure the full anonymization of subscriber identities (IMSI) in order to avoid to pinpointing and tracing individuals and collecting their sensitive data; onboarding identity encryption to 5G networks and addressing all the necessities of this wireless grid. 5G SIMs also give operators the ability to configure some network parameters inside the SIM cards – bringing all types of benefits, from network slicing, privacy networks, Non-3GPP network access and more.

From 2018 to 2020, the Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA) released a new set of technical requirements (release 15 and 16), to improve the level of security and help the industry to deliver improved 5G related technologies. There are 2 types of 5G SIMs available, one that maximizes the benefits from 5G networks, and another that focuses on the low-power latency for IoT, such as NB-IoT; both incorporating the new technical requirements from TCA.

Another major advantage of 5G SIMs, especially for MNOs, is the fact that they are able to remotely change or restore the SIM card authentication credentials during their lifecycle without the need to physically change it in case its security is compromised. In this case, key rotation management applications are used to improve the customer experience and prevent cyber-attacks and therefore, becoming more cyber resistant.

Additionally, 5G also brings edge computing solutions to center stage, such as its Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) application already in use by China Mobile, ZTE, and Tecent to improve cloud gaming. MEC application enhances the network performance for ultra-low latency and high bandwidth services, moving some of the computing capability out of the main public cloud and closer to the end user – to process data faster since it doesn’t need to travel as far to connect to one centralized location. In order to guarantee the success of this new use case, it will be extremely important for MNOs and key Mobile Players to invest in cloud-based security services in order to protect edge computing functionalities and their consumers’ sensitive information from possible attacks due to the fact that they are spread out across different locations rather than accessing the core of the network.

Taking care of data privacy concerns, protecting smart device integrity, and focusing on end-to-end network security will assure the success of the 5G network, giving consumers the peace of mind they need to enjoy high-speed connectivity, HD graphics, virtual reality applications, the safe usage of autonomous cars, smarter cities, and any other convenient solution that comes our way.