|Mikko Karikyto, chief product security officer at Ericsson
While the pandemic has raised awareness about the value of networks in terms of enabling collaboration and innovation despite lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, the critical role they play in providing security is often overlooked. Many enterprises do not realise, for example, that the network platform has been carefully designed to ensure strong baseline security for all connected use cases.
In fact, the network platform is characterised by high end-to-end trustworthiness in all major dimensions: resilience, communication security, identity management, privacy, and security assurance.
Through Ericsson’s active involvement in the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development, we aim to work strategically and collaboratively with communication service providers (CSPs) and industries/enterprises to drive the triple bottom line benefit of social, economic, and environmental value through the accelerated adoption of ICT. Indeed, the future of the ICT industry is to digitally transform all other industries.
The safest and most efficient way for enterprises to digitalise and become more connected is by building on top of the strong security foundation offered by telecoms networks. Unlike competing technology providers, the telecoms industry has been shaped over decades by international standardisation processes such as the Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), as well as being strongly regulated by governments across the planet. As a result, security has always been a top priority.
When enterprises transform, security must always be a key consideration. It is important to remember that beyond standardised features, what essentially determines the security of a network is the security of the products, deployments and configurations of the networks, as well as operational procedures.
The robust security of such networks is based on strong identities (traditionally based on physical SIM cards), strong encryption for user data, and hardware-based security in equipment such as radio base stations. 5G includes an extensive list of improvements that further enhance the privacy and security of network users, as well as strengthening the protection of the network itself.
The robust, high-performing mobile connectivity provided by 3G/4G technology played a key role in the rise of social media and new digital platforms – Google Maps, Spotify, YouTube, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and so on – that have changed human behaviour in fundamental ways. The learnings from the 3G/4G deployments have been taken into consideration in the process of developing 5G, giving us the opportunity to change the world in a more security-aware manner going forward.
The many lessons that CSPs have learned from 3G and 4G deployments make them ideally suited to play a key role as connectivity providers for the Internet of Things (IoT). The advanced edge capabilities in 5G offer an opportunity to implement some of the basic security features to be served from the network, making it much easier for enterprises to start their IoT journey safely. 5G network platforms are based on recognised and proven security 3GPP standards and leverage new innovative approaches such as network slicing and service-based architecture.
As such, they provide the optimal foundation for secure network services and critical infrastructures.
A good example of how the strengths of different players can be used most effectively is Daimler’s Factory 56 – the world’s first 5G-enabled automobile factory. All production systems and machines in the newly-built Factory 56 will be connected and operated via a secure 5G private network built together with Telefónica and Ericsson.
Private 5G networks like this one are able to provide a high level of security due to the inherent strengths of mobile networks in terms of strong authentication of connected clients, encryption, and integrity protection of data. Enterprises need to know that the complexity that results from diversifying network topologies and growing number of use cases increases the likelihood of security gaps. Their best bet for spotting those gaps early is to work with a partner such as a CSP that has seen a few generations of mobile communication technologies firsthand and has experience overcoming previous network-related security challenges.
Security is an essential component of any digital business model. Based on global standards and the strong foundation established by previous mobile network generations, 5G offers enterprises of all kinds the opportunity to leverage the most secure communications platform the world has ever seen.
With 5G, CSPs are uniquely positioned to serve as security champions for digital business, providing the foundation for secure network services and critical infrastructure for today and for the future.
As we look beyond the pandemic, the need for a secure, fully digital business is clear. The 5G technology is available and CSPs have the trust base, know-how, and experience to support enterprises on their digital journeys.