How to protect 5G and virtualized networks from cyber-attacks at the heart of core and multi-access edge clouds

Last updated: 26 February 2018

This post was written in collaboration with my colleague Sébastien Violette

Today we are thrilled to announce a very important foundational component of our 5G security strategy by bolstering protection against cyber-attacks for the next generation of cloud-based virtualized networks which will underpin a new era of dynamic, cost-efficient network provision. Our work with Intel, taking advantage of Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) technology, will deliver a robust processor-level cybersecurity solution for a new, first wave of 5G networks.

This initiative combines the Intel® Software Guard Extensions trusted enclave, which is a secure software-protected area of execution in memory, with Gemalto’s advanced security software services to create a robust processor-level security solution for virtualized networks. Some 1.2 billion 5G connections are expected worldwide by 2025, and network virtualization will be key in helping operators maximize return on investment. But with physical network functions being migrated to the cloud resulting in new attack surfaces for malicious forces, one of the challenges for the mobile industry is to ensure identity protection, confidentiality and integrity of these newly virtualized network functions.

The combined solution secures virtualized networks from core to multi-access edge by ensuring virtual functions and applications residing in network slices are protected and isolated. Preventing confidential data leakage is vital to ensure that new 5G applications, including IoT and critical communications, achieve the highest standards of reliability, safety and privacy. As analytics (which leverage machine learning and AI) are applied to data being processed within the virtualized network both at the core and at the various layers of distributed, multi-access edge cloud, the insights gleaned from the data become the crown jewels to protect. Those insights will in turn trigger automated events to improve our daily lives in many, many ways.

Gemalto’s SafeNet Data Protection On-Demand is a cloud-based, security-as-a-service platform that supports a diverse range of encryption, key management and hardware security module services. It offers developers a single gateway through which software solutions can be implemented direct to Intel® SGX, the highly protected enclaves embedded in the architecture of Intel® Xeon® processors for cloud data centers.

Mobile operators cannot afford to let security challenges undermine the compelling commercial benefits of 5G and virtualized networks. Our solution taking advantage of Intel SGX will give organizations deploying cutting-edge, cloud-based virtualized networks all the tools necessary to address the profound dangers posed by the consequences of increasing data breaches or network disruption in our increasingly connected world.

Gemalto and Intel will be showcasing our newest solution at Mobile World Congress from February 26th to March 1st in Barcelona – at the Intel booth – which is located in Hall 3, 3E31.

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