LIVE FROM MWL UNWRAPPED: Security experts from Telefonica and Orange played down concerns that an open RAN approach to networks would create additional security risks, highlighting the fact any new technology deployed comes with threats.

Patricia Diez Munoz, head of network, IT platforms and customer devices security at Telefonica (pictured), said open RAN was of course a challenge from a security aspect, but not necessarily because it was open, but because it was being brought to market as a new offering.

She pointed out that deploying 5G was also through a multi-vendor environment, and the bigger concern was ensuring the correct implementation of open RAN.

In steps to mitigate the security threats of open RAN, Munoz highlighted a memorandum of understanding signed by Europe’s five biggest operators in February to progress the technology.

Part of that quintet along with Telefonica, Vodafone, Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom is Orange. Also speaking on the session, the company’s network security manager Remy Harel (pictured, below) said the industry acknowledged there were some things to take care of around Open RAN threats, and there were some aspects of security “we are not ready to concede”.

Remy Harel, Orange

However, he also said that through open RAN, operators could reduce investments compared to the traditional way of building networks.

“We can then use this money elsewhere to enhance security and so on. When you think about it, there are a lot of facilities today that is already shared, a lot of people use and it is secured.”

Also during the session, both executives spoke about how 5G had been created with security in mind. Harel said the industry knew it had to do better with security compared to its approach with 4G, and there was a “wall of movement” across the ecosystem to ensure it was secure by design.

Munoz agreed that as a concept, 5G was designed to be a more secure technology compared to previous generations. However, she noted implementation had not been easy with new challenges continuing to emerge, such as international roaming.