YOU ARE AT:5GCTIA debuts a 5G security testbed for commercial networks

CTIA debuts a 5G security testbed for commercial networks

As the security of current and future 5G network implementations continues to be a top-of-mind issue for the industry, CTIA is launching a new security testing and validation initiative for commercial 5G networks.

The 5G Security Test Bed (STB) was born out of CTIA’s Cybersecurity Working Group “to test 5G security recommendations across real-world conditions using commercial-grade equipment and facilities,” CTIA said in a release.

Its founding members are AT&T, Ericsson, T-Mobile US, US Cellular, Mitre, and the University of Maryland. CTIA said that the testbed will primarily focus on verifying the Federal Communications Cmmission’s Security Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) VII recommendations for 5G networks.

The STB will also serve as an industry resource for CSRIC VIII, CTIA said. The FCC just announced the working group members of the council last month.

There are six CSRIC VIII working groups:

-Working Group 1 is centered on 5G signalling protocols security and is co-chaired by Brian Daly of AT&T and Travis Russell of Oracle.

-Working Group 2 focuses on promoting the security, reliability, and interoperability of Open RAN equipment. It is co-chaired by Mike Barnes of Mavenir and George Woodward of the Rural Wireless Association.

-Working Group 3 focuses on using virtualization to promote security and reliability in 5G, co-chaired by Micaela Giuhat of Microsoft and John Roese of Dell

-Working Group 4 is centered on 911 service over Wi-Fi and is co-chaired by Mary Boyd of Intrado and Mark Reddish of APCO.

-Working Group 5’s area of focus is on managing software and cloud services supply chain security for communications infrastructure; the group is chaired by Rittwik Jana of VMWare.

-Working Group 6 will work on issues surrounding the use of mobile device applications and firmware for wireless emergency alerts. It is co-chaired by Farrokh Khatibi of Qualcomm and Francisco Sanchez of Harris County, Texas’ OHSEM.

The CTIA 5G security testbed uses Ericsson equipment and is initially set up with a 5G Non-Standalone configuration; it is physically located at a secure lab facility at the University of Maryland, with the core hosted in northern Virginia by Mitre, which is a not-for-profit research and development company. The testbed will shift to enabling 5G Standalone testing later this year, CTIA added.

While CTIA says that “5G is the most secure generation of wireless technology, with enhanced protections built into it from the ground-up,” it nonetheless adds that the test bed was “created to build on this foundation” and enable testing and the development of recommendations that can further improve 5G security.

“This initiative will complement and bolster the FCC’s 5G security efforts, validate its recommendations, and demonstrate 5G security features, with cross-industry groups working collaboratively to test use cases and products on an actual 5G network using real-world hardware and software,” said CTIA SVP and CTO Tom Sawanobori, who is also part of CSRIC VIII.

Chris Boyer, VP of global security and technology policy at AT&T, said in a statement that the testbed effort “builds on the work underway in standards setting bodies, such as 3GPP, and will enable the industry to demonstrate 5G security in a real-word setting for consumers, enterprise businesses and government.”

Drew Morin, director of federal cyber security technology and engineering programs at T-Mobile US, added that the test bed “will provide an environment to assess potential threats to 5G security raised by security researchers.”

“The work being done by this collaborative group to evaluate and validate assumptions is important for protecting the integrity and security of 5G data,” said — Narothum Saxena, VP of technology strategy and architecture at US Cellular. “We’re looking forward to contributing to the security of 5G for consumers, business and government, now and as the technology continues to evolve.”


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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