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Cyber Security in the 5G Age: Securing Your Network

As global cellular networks evolve to 5G, they are enabling and expanding a more all-things-connected world.  However, with this comes an increase of cyberattacks on essential infrastructure like communications systems or power grids. Advancements in 5G allows for smart cities, automated factories, self-driving cars, remote surgeries, and many more devices to be online. Now, not only will devices like your phone be at risk, but perhaps even things like your car, your home appliances, or even your pacemaker. Therefore, network digital twin technology is essential for modelling potential cyber threats on a national level, a personal level, and everywhere in between.

These new 5G system environments create challenges for wired and wireless network planning, network analysis, and cyber threat analysis. Take, for example, optimizing cell tower placement for cost and operational effectiveness, as analyzing networks and creating layouts becomes increasingly complex. Or, look at a more elaborate scenario: military operations. In past 4G environments, military personnel looking to disrupt communications in a contested region could simply target cell towers in the area to cut off service. Base stations in 4G environments are powerful cells that cover a large range with little overlap. However, with a 5G network, eliminating a cell tower will likely not affect communications for users in that area. 5G networks are virtualized and distributed, featuring multiple overlaid access points – so a device that loses a signal from one access point automatically transfers to another without loss of service.

Beyond increased complexity, there are other, compounding considerations when operating in 5G environments. Understanding how 4G and 5G Networks will work simultaneously in the same environment is critical for organizations to ensure secure and reliable networks. The need to develop an efficient, high-fidelity approach for understanding, evaluating, and protecting critical infrastructure has never been greater. An important part of the solution lies in innovative new techniques for modeling and simulating 5G mobile networks.

Let’s look at our first example: optimal cell tower placement. Being able to first model these 4G/5G systems in a completely simulated domain to understand radio frequency performance in relation to terrain and environmental conditions presents a massive safeguard. Hardware-in-the-loop capabilities only increase the fidelity of these platforms, allowing the user to understand with pinpoint accuracy how a system will react and perform under specified conditions. With this type of modelling, the user can toggle between a live, virtual, and constructive view of the mobile network big data in any given locale with confidence.

Using network digital twins for simulation of our second example presents even stronger advantages for our defense community. Firstly, network modelling allows instructors to train personnel with hands-on scenarios for cyber network attacks on devices like handsets, IoT devices, telematics systems, and Industrial Control Sensors. Military personnel no longer need to wonder beforehand how network functions work within the larger system of handsets, signaling, and data messages. Cyber-attacks within a big data cellular network can be simulated with precision, modelling a 4G/5G jam right down to the wavelength. The models can be applied to test one’s own resiliency, or to plan an offensive on a combatant’s systems. Network digital twins for high-fidelity modeling and simulation is a cutting-edge approach to mission success.

From smart cities to military bases, critical infrastructure is about to get more complex with 5G networks. Modeling and simulation is critical to understand, protect, and ensure the resiliency of network operations. SCALABLE continues to invest in bringing our global customers the latest technology, including web-based models and services, automations to simplify creation of models, and advanced cyber M&S capabilities.

You can read the full article by SCALABLE Network Technologies Founder and CEO, Dr. Rajive Bagrodia, in Pipeline Magazine.




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