5G Networks Will Inherit Their Predecessors’ Security Issues

There is a lot of excitement over 5G’s promises of blazing speeds, lower latencies, and more robust security than 3G and 4G networks. However, the fact that each network operator has its own timetable for rolling out the next-generation cellular technology means early 5G will actually be a patchwork of 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. That means that, for the next few years, 5G networks won’t be able to fully deliver on its promises.

The fact that 5G networks will have to interoperate with legacy networks means these networks will continue to be vulnerable to attacks such as spoofing, fraud, user impersonation, and denial-of-service. Network operators will continue to rely on GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP), which is designed to allow data packets to move back and forth between different operators’ wireless networks, as may happen when a user is roaming (GPRS itself stands for General Packet Radio Service, a standard for mobile data packets). Telecom security company Positive Technologies said in a recent report that as long as GTP is in use, the protocol’s security issues will impact 5G networks.

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