The future of 5G security

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As Vice-Chair of the security sub-group of UK5G, I chaired the 5G and Security – Security Sub-Working Group webinars, a part of 5G week, which took place virtually on 7th and 8th September 2020. UK5G is the national advisory body for the UK’s 5G support programme, and the event was an opportunity to hear from thought leaders on a variety of security topics.

The event hosted senior representatives from service providers, regulators and across the industry to address 5G security aspects such as technology evolution, service evolution, policy, deployment, standards and research fields.

5G is expected to be a key enabler for the future digital economy and society. There will be bigger implications for security on 5G networks due to the dependency of essential services on connectivity. To address these challenges, an end-to-end security framework, across all layers and all domains is needed. Best practises and policies around security and resilience will be required to future-proof 5G networks.

The event gave a forum to discuss these issues, as well as looking at industry dynamics, policy intervention and innovation momentum, both research and industry-led.

I also had the pleasure of moderating a discussion panel on ‘Security and deployment scenarios: the impact of distributed network, edge and private network on security’. We discussed how a 5G Standalone (SA) deployment is more secure than 5G Non-standalone (NSA) and how this could be a driver of private network adoption for enterprises. We also spoke about the edge as an enabler of IoT services and the importance to have some mechanisms, as well as enforcement policies, at the edge to mitigate these threats.

I was not the only speaker from Colt at the event, as our EVP Technology and Security, Ashish Surti, shared how we are addressing security challenges for B2B. He highlighted the strong security focus Colt has due to the nature of our market segment, which requires secure connectivity infrastructure and on demand flexibility for customers to enhance the security at the edge through virtual functions.

I enjoyed the panel discussion ‘Security as a policy’ moderated by Mark Hawkins, featuring Adrian M from NCSC, James Cooke and Dan Tor from DCMS as panellists. It was very insightful to learn the importance of government agencies in the delivery of a holistic security framework through incubation activities to lower market barriers, deliver innovation and develop the ecosystem around 5G security.

Events like this really highlight how important security is when building and implementing 5G networks, and why it should be at the forefront of many people’s minds when looking into this emerging technology. It’s also fantastic to see and be a part of Colt’s input into this area and how we’re making a difference.

Francesca Serravalle, Emerging Technology Director, Colt Technology Services

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