Innovation required in digital security for UK 5G: report

Written by NTN staff

A new report, produced as part of the UK's 5G Testbed and Trials programme, has been released, arguing that the UK needs to rethink its mobile security strategy to ensure safe future 5G networks.

It makes four key recommendations to protect the UK’s future vital infrastructure and safeguard the country’s position as a leader in 5G technologies.

Connected and autonomous vehicles, virtual reality gaming on the go, and mobile download speeds all need good technical underpinnings and 5G is viewed as a critical piece of the technological puzzle going forward. The first 5G enabled services are expected to come to market next year and work is taking place across the UK test beds to prepare.

At the same time, things like network slicing and edge processing that bypasses the core open new security paradigms that need to be considered. A new paper as part of government efforts recommends a cross-layered process that will allow end-to-end security for critical services such as the transport and logistics, health and social care, industry 4.0 and rural connectivity solutions.

It also calls for an organisation that is tasked to help monitor and encourage good security-by-design practice, and set out and document an approach to designing secure 5G networks, applications and services. Moreover, further testing of standards and security capability using existing UK test beds is needed.

Systems need to be ‘secure by design’ and new approaches, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will be required, it says.

“Performance risk in such a complex network means that we need to reconsider many of our digital security processes. We believe that with the sound recommendations made in this paper, the UK will be in a good position to continue our leadership position in 5G innovation, development and deployment,” the report said.

Robert Driver, head of UK 5G, said: “Purposeful innovation is at the heart of the pioneering work being carried out by the 5G trials being conducted across the UK funded by the DCMS, and involving close collaboration between many organisations.

"This technical paper, led by the University of Surrey 5G Innovation Centre, includes three of the DCMS funded Phase 1 trials, and is a great example of such strong collaboration.”