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5G network security monitoring
Explore the benefits and challenges of next-gen wireless communications
The next generation of 5G network security monitoring
Adoption of 5G wireless technology is poised to grow exponentially, with the potential for transformative impact across industries. 5G represents a significant departure from previous generations of mobile infrastructure due to its software-defined nature, which enables the network to provide transformative benefits, from lower latency and higher bandwidth to increased endpoint connectivity. Approximately 80% of the $1.1 trillion investment by network operators and wireless technology services providers from 2020 to present has been allocated to 5G, with the same expected through 20251. Of that investment, a significant portion is going towards the transition from 4G to 5G mobile infrastructure. 4G wireless communications laid the foundation for mobile computing, but certain inherent deficiencies such as weaker data encryption capabilities, lower network speeds, and lower bandwidth capacity have limited its ability to scale with the mobile-centric computing trend.
As industries move from 4G to 5G, companies likely face new challenges maintaining their cybersecurity posture
One of the revolutionary aspects of a 5G network is its cloud-native in nature, leading to deployments that are largely decoupled from hardware. The result is improved a greater ability to scale and add new services on demand. However, because the underlying wireless technology is software-based, ephemeral, and dynamic, effective monitoring with pre-existing tools presents inherent challenges. Many companies may also struggle to implement network monitoring solutions that provide timely alerts for unusual or malicious activities to network administrators—the result of 5G’s move from centralized, hardware-based systems to decentralized, software-defined network routing. With 4G’s hardware-defined networks, cybersecurity controls may be implemented around specific checkpoints. In contrast, 5G’s software-defined network pushes network traffic outward, complicating inspection and cyber control implementation. Without proper network visibility, companies may struggle to provide proactive network monitoring for anomalies, thereby hampering their cybersecurity and predictive analytics capabilities.
From a technical perspective, 5G wireless communications may further depend on micro-services-based, cloud-native, and containerized architectures. As such, organizations implementing cloud and 5G wireless technology likely need greater insight into inter- and intra-container traffic if they are to observe and capture data at speed and scale without compromising throughput and connectivity. They may also require deeper visibility into the network traffic they are monitoring, as well as their ability to correlate complex data flows. Many current network monitoring technologies only provide limited network metrics such as source and destination addresses, ports, and protocols. Additionally, some network monitoring solutions only provide a snapshot of metrics such as performance and status data. As such, they are unable to continuously provide valuable network insights in real-time. Monitoring is further complicated by the fact that network traffic is usually encrypted, and the time it takes for external decryption and analysis further hampers detection and remediation.
Deloitte is now exploring 5G monitoring opportunities with MantisNet
There are a myriad of companies working on solutions to alleviate the issues that 5G wireless technology presents around network visibility, one of which is MantisNet. MantisNet provides a cloud-native data visibility platform that delivers network monitoring capabilities across 5G mobile infrastructure—down to the kernel and container level. The result is real-time, continuous, contextual traffic metadata. Furthermore, MantisNet’s software-based agents are intelligent, lightweight, and flexible, facilitating effective monitoring of 5G operations, regardless of encryption status. For these reasons and more, Deloitte is currently exploring new opportunities with MantisNet pertaining to 5G network security monitoring services.
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 The Mobile Economy 2020. GSM Association 2020. [asccessed 2022-03-04]
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