TL;DR: 5G is the future of wireless and the future of security and monitoring of 5G networks is in question. Security, inspection and monitoring software makers; core 5G manufacturers and application providers leveraging 5G networks must understand that modern TLS encryption doesn’t mean you must sacrifice network visibility.
5G is expanding the potential of mobile broadband networks. It’s faster and more responsive than its 4G predecessor. It uses less power and creates more efficiency. 5G uses additional radio frequencies, small cells, and beam-forming radio technologies to offer more bandwidth at millisecond latency to ten times the connections per square mile. The combination of new technologies enables 5G networks to transfer 1000 times more data than 4G networks. Such a massive scale in capacity will usher in a new generation of business and commercial applications. To quote our friends at Empirix, “What was acceptable on 3G networks became unacceptable by 4G standards, and the same will be true of 5G.” We could not agree more - a new way is required.
5G is the future of wireless.
But this future is also rife with potential security issues:
Decentralized security – Previous wireless networks had fewer hardware traffic points-of-contact making it easier to do security checks and upkeep. But new 5G networks run on dynamic software-based systems with many more traffic routing points. In order to be secure, all routing points must be monitored.
More bandwidth puts added strain on monitoring systems. While current networks are limited in speed and capacity, this has actually helped providers monitor security in real-time. So, the benefits of an expanded 5G network will add complications to security and monitoring teams. The added speed and volume will challenge security teams to create new methods for stopping threats and challenge application and networking teams to troubleshoot.
Downgraded and/or lack of encryption. Reducing modern encryption protocols in order to “see” and monitor traffic opens the door for even more risk. When this door is opened, hackers can quickly identify devices connected to a network and go to work to undermine networks and access data.
In this TechTarget article, renowned security guru Michael Cobb lays out the details of security issues to expect as 5G networks go live. It’s no surprise that the massive increase in 5G connectivity will create a larger attack surface. Cobb also notes: “5G network architectures rely heavily on software, quality control and security assurance from service providers to avoid mass failures across multiple networks.” In short, providers need visibility to get and maintain security and visibility across their networks.
New 5G infrastructure requires providers to inspect traffic for security, diagnostics, monitoring, and troubleshooting. With this in mind, security and monitoring tool manufacturers must deliver methods that support the 5G mandate to use TLS 1.3, the newest highest level of encryption and privacy.
Modern TLS encryption specifications, however, introduce two significant, but solvable problems. First, this high-speed, low-latency infrastructure means inline devices can’t be relied upon to efficiently decrypt network traffic visibility. What’s more, TLS 1.3 means passive inspection monitoring is no longer an option.
The currently “acceptable” workarounds look like this:
Down-rev the TLS 1.3 standard protocol to allow for the inspection of network traffic while exposing the network to security risks.
Embrace new TLS 1.3 encryption for security, but give up the ability to inspect and monitor traffic.
Implement complex measures into the service mesh itself, which introduce complications and create more security issues.
These options worked well for legacy scenarios, but unfortunately, with modern networks and advancements such as 5G - there are growing gaps and “gotchas” when it comes to monitoring.
A Modern Encryption Visibility Solution for 5G Networks
What if there was a solution that enabled acceptance of modern TLS 1.3 encryption and still allowed users to see network traffic for security, inspection and monitoring purposes?
Nubeva offers the only pure-play decryption solution. Our Symmetric Key Intercept technology fits seamlessly into existing security and monitoring tools used to see the complete details of traffic and eliminate security risks. It’s a no-compromise solution.
Built-in a self-contained, pre-packaged commercial environment, Nubeva’s solution allows full, passive decrypted inspection of traffic, while aggressively embracing TLS 1.3. Users can securely extract session secrets and forward them to monitoring and inspection devices without any impact on production traffic or control systems and no latency issue.
This solution plugs into existing tools already in use and allows customers to embrace the advantages of TLS 1.3 while avoiding the complexities of trying to decrypt with native service mesh technology. Nubeva has introduced a high-performance Decryption Library that allows tool manufacturers and service providers to achieve terabit-level inspection of data economically – a necessity for modern infrastructures in 5G.