5G technology has emerged as a game changer for mobile connectivity, particularly in relation to cloud connectivity. With its high speed and low latency, 5G enables seamless connections between smartphones, IoT devices, and cloud infrastructure. This technology has become an integral part of the infrastructure layers that connect end users with services, transmitting sensitive data that is crucial for governments, businesses, and individuals. However, due to the critical role 5G networks play, they have also become prime targets for attackers, making cybersecurity a key focus in the development of the 5G standard.

To ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of network services and user data, 5G incorporates robust security measures. In this article, we will explore five cutting-edge security features of 5G, as explained by Seva Vayner, the Product Owner of Gcore’s Edge Cloud service. Additionally, we will delve into the performance capabilities of 5G and explore how contemporary cloud-native enterprises can leverage this transformative technology to their advantage.

Understanding 5G:

The Next Wireless Network Standard 5G represents the latest wireless network standard that surpasses its predecessor, 4G (LTE). It has been designed to provide fast speeds and low latency for connecting people and devices.

The throughput of 5G significantly surpasses that of 4G. In theory, 5G can offer speeds of up to 20 Gbps in the downlink, which is 200 times faster than 4G’s maximum speed of 100 Mbps. Real-world outdoor tests conducted by 5G operators in the US and EU have shown that they provide nearly 1 Gbps for the downlink channel, according to the 2023 CELLSMART survey.

In terms of latency, 5G can achieve latencies as low as 10 ms (compared to 30 ms in 4G) in controlled test environments. However, actual latency in real-world scenarios depends on various factors. For example, Ericsson’s tests in the US revealed that typical 5G latency is around 20 ms, which is virtually imperceptible to humans. This is particularly beneficial for applications like gaming, where latency exceeding 50 ms can have a noticeable impact on user experience.

5 Essential Security Features of 5G

To ensure the security of 5G networks, several important security methods and technologies have been implemented. Let’s explore five key security features of 5G:

Encryption: 

5G employs strong encryption algorithms such as AES, ZUC, SNOW 3G, and HMAC-SHA-256 to protect user data and network traffic from eavesdropping, interception, and tampering. The encryption process involves the separation of security keys between different network segments, as well as fast synchronization of security contexts in access networks and core networks.

Privacy Protection

Privacy protection in 5G networks is achieved through encryption and various other techniques. IMSI/TMSI-catchers are common tools used by attackers to uncover and track subscribers, and these strategies effectively safeguard against them. A subscriber’s temporary identifier (TMSI) can be concealed and regularly updated with the Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES).. They can also detect false base stations, which are often the sources of IMSI/TMSI-catchers.

Authentication and Authorization: 

5G’s authentication and authorization mechanisms are based on the Authentication and Key Agreement method (5G AKA). This method includes robust authentication processes to verify the identities of users, devices, and network elements.As opposed to 4G, 5G relies on more than SIM cards to verify credentials; it uses pre-shared keys, certificates, and tokens as well. Mobile operators can choose the authentication credentials.