A technical report warned the UK must rethink its mobile security strategy to ensure it is able to reap the benefits of 5G, as concerns grow around the risks the new technology poses to vital infrastructure in the country.
The report, produced as part of the UK government’s 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, highlighted four significant security-based measures experts believe will protect the country’s networks and safeguard its position as a 5G leader.
First, the UK needs to innovate its security systems and create a new way to predict and pre-validate network connections, along with leveraging mobile artificial intelligence (AI)-based autonomous network technologies. This should be applied to a number of devices, from mobile phones and smart industrial machines, to health monitoring and consumer devices.
To effectively mitigate risks, networks need to quickly and efficiently recognise these devices to confirm they are secure without compromising user experience and performance.
Second, a cross-layered process must be deployed to allow end-to-end security for critical services including transport and logistics; health and social care; and rural connectivity solutions.
The paper also recommended that an organisation should be created to help monitor and encourage “security-by-design practice”, setting out and documenting an approach to designing secure 5G networks, applications and services.
Finally, there should be further testing of standards and security capability, using existing UK test beds.
Three of the UK’s six 5G test beds contributed to the report including AutoAir, which is testing the transport use case; 5G RuralFirst, which is exploring how 5G can enhance rural communities; and Worcestershire 5G Testbed, which is exploring the industrial use case.
Rahim Tafazolli, founding director of the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey (which also contributed to the study), said with the first 5G-enabled services set to come to market in 2019 “the benefits of being prepared for what 5G offers are clear for all to see”.
“Performance risk in such a complex network means that we need to reconsider many of our digital security processes,” he said. “We believe that with the sound recommendations made in this paper, the UK will be in a good position to continue our leadership position in 5G innovation, development and deployment.”Subscribe to our daily newsletter