Every generation of telecommunications networks brings faster speeds and innovation, and 5G is no exception. Whereas 1G brought us the first cellphones, 2G texting, and so on, 5G will serve as a catalyst for innovation on a level we’ve never seen before, enabling things like smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and telemedicine. Billions of devices are already connected through 5G, which means it’s critical to our future that we ensure that 5G is both resilient and secure. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) works with government and industry partners to do just that. Here are the five strategic initiatives they are undertaking to advance the secure and resilient deployment of 5G infrastructure.
- Support 5G policy and standards development by emphasizing security and resilience: To prevent attempts by threat actors to influence the design and architecture of 5G networks, it is critical that the foundational elements of 5G technology be designed and implemented with security and resilience from the start. To do so, CISA works with government groups and industry market leaders to develop standards to eliminate vulnerabilities and potential for corruption.
- Expand situational awareness of 5G supply chain risks and promote security measures: Between untrusted components, vendors, equipment, and networks, 5G supply chain security is under constant threat. Compromised components have the potential to affect the connectivity and security of transmitted data and information. To mitigate this, CISA will partner with supply chain-focused entities to unify efforts and workstreams and to develop a common framework for evaluating and communicating 5G supply chain risks.
- Partner with stakeholders to strengthen and secure existing infrastructure to support future 5G deployments: Early iterations of 5G deployment work alongside existing 4G LTE infrastructure and core networks. While 5G architecture is designed to be more secure, 5G’s specifications and protocols stem from previous networks, which contain legacy vulnerabilities. These inherent vulnerabilities, along with new and unidentified risks, will require the collaboration of industry and government to develop and communicate security enhancements to support secure 5G deployments, which CISA will coordinate.
- Encourage innovation in the 5G marketplace to foster trusted 5G vendors: CISA will work with its partners to support R&D initiatives and prize programs that result in secure and resilient 5G technologies and capabilities. This helps to drive innovation and establish a trusted vendor community for the future of 5G, as increasing the trusted vendors in the 5G marketplace addresses risks posed by limited competition and proprietary solutions.
- Analyze potential 5G use cases and share information on identified risk management strategies: The enhanced capabilities of 5G technologies will support an array of new functions and devices, introducing a plethora of potential use cases such as smart cities with billions of connected devices. Through real and simulated environments, CISA will identify and prioritize 5G use cases so vital to the US that their disruption, corruption, or dysfunction would have a debilitating effect on things like national security or public health.
We’ve all heard the heard the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility,” and this is incredibly true for 5G networks. 5G has to potential to change how the world works, which means the stakes for safeguarding the networks against vulnerabilities could not be higher. CISA’s 5 strategic initiatives for 5G are critical to enhancing national security, technological innovation, and economic opportunity, both now and in the future.