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Revolutionizing Cybersecurity: the Potential Of Network Slicing

By Tom Seest

What Is Network Slicing In Cybersecurity?

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Network slicing is a form of network virtualization that enables multiple logical networks to run on top of an existing physical infrastructure. This creates an end-to-end virtual network with not just networking capabilities but also computing and storage functions.
5G offers mobile operators a key capability, enabling them to meet the demands of various users and applications with flexible, customizable bandwidth and quality of service for each slice. Furthermore, service providers can leverage their existing network infrastructure in order to offer more personalized experiences.

What Is Network Slicing In Cybersecurity?

What Is Network Slicing In Cybersecurity?

Can Network Slicing Revolutionize Cybersecurity?

Network slicing is a network technology that enables users to connect to specific parts of the network, known as slices. This enables organizations to prioritize data and avoid redundant transmissions. Furthermore, it helps prevent security breaches by isolating data and resources from each other.
Network slicing offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional networks that have one infrastructure and multiple services, as each slice provides its own set of network resources. This enables CSPs to efficiently serve various applications and customers while still remaining cost-effective.
Network slicing is becoming more and more prevalent, raising security concerns due to its capability of allowing multiple access points and devices to connect to the network. This presents potential vulnerabilities, such as international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) caching or configuration attacks.
In this regard, the NSA, CISA, and ODNI have issued guidance on the security risks associated with 5G network slicing and mitigation strategies. The document outlines three primary areas of concern: cybersecurity, privacy, and lawful interception.
The primary concern with privacy is protecting data transmitted without human interaction. This could include information sent by connected vehicles, sensors, or other machine-to-machine devices.
Another pressing concern relates to security, which involves safeguarding data that contains human identity. This could include safeguarding personal details like passwords and financial info.
Third, lawful interception refers to collecting data sent from a device without human interaction. This could include information sent by connected vehicles, sensors, or other machine-to-machine interfaces.
SS8 is working with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and communication service providers (CSPs) to enhance our platform so it becomes simpler to utilize network slicing for lawful interception. This will include providing a tool that allows users to identify and select individual network slices to target for interception, while also managing how intelligence is collected.
Network slicing not only poses legal complications, but it can also pose technical obstacles. Despite its many advantages, security remains one of the top concerns when it comes to network slicing.

Can Network Slicing Revolutionize Cybersecurity?

Can Network Slicing Revolutionize Cybersecurity?

Why Should You Care About Network Slicing?

Network slicing is the ability to create virtual networks that can be tailored for different applications with distinct requirements, known as “slices.” These capabilities give operators tremendous freedom when it comes to developing new services and offering improved customer experiences.
Network slicing offers several advantages, one of which is more robust cybersecurity. Each slice is isolated in terms of traffic and resources, making it much more resistant than Wi-Fi, which is typically shared among other wireless devices. Furthermore, specific security measures can be applied to specific slices – an invaluable asset for companies needing to protect their assets.
Another key advantage of network slicing is its capacity to support multiple use cases with a single 5G network, giving companies the adaptability and scalability they require as their requirements evolve. An example would be a retail organization using IoT, cloud data streams and device connectivity to manage inventory in real time.
Other applications that could benefit from network slicing include autonomous vehicles, which require low latency and high reliability. 5G technology makes these kinds of technical needs possible with ease, allowing businesses to take advantage of new revenue opportunities as they arise.
For instance, a company can leverage its 5G network to deploy autonomous forklift trucks that require real-time data transfer and priority access to the network. Doing so helps them reduce operating expenses while creating new revenue opportunities.
Network slicing also allows an operator to design a cellular service tailored for emerging edge computing and Internet of Things applications. This is essential for businesses needing faster, more dependable services as well as the creation of new consumer-facing applications.
Network slicing has numerous advantages for communication service providers (CSPs), including being able to differentiate their network offerings and boost revenue margins by offering custom products tailored for customers. Furthermore, this approach helps CSPs adapt more quickly to changing business requirements while driving profitable growth.

Why Should You Care About Network Slicing?

Why Should You Care About Network Slicing?

Are Your Networks at Risk with Network Slicing?

Network slicing can offer businesses improved cybersecurity. This is because it enables businesses to isolate network traffic and resources by use case, so the security measures required can be deployed on the specific slice that meets their requirements.
In order to protect network slices, companies should adhere to several best practices. These include isolating each slice, using a zero-trust architecture and monitoring each network slice for malicious activity.
According to an assessment released by the Enduring Security Framework (ESF), companies must implement multiple layers of security in order to guarantee confidentiality, integrity, and availability. They recommend that operators implement four levels of protection: virtualized network functions instances and associated connections, transport network, core network, and all network slice subsets.
However, security researchers have recently identified vulnerabilities in the technology used to provision network slices. These flaws, similar to those found in telco OWASP, allow hackers to break into a network and steal data.
The National Security Agency and CISA have released new guidelines to assist companies in mitigating these risks. According to the agencies, the security of a network slice is “essential for the successful implementation of 5G.
These guidelines suggest operators use multiple virtual network slices on a single physical network, with users authenticated only for one area, to enable data and security isolation. This could be especially advantageous for federal agencies that handle sensitive information or require low-latency communication.
Implementing a zero-trust architecture is essential, which eliminates any implicit trust and requires user verification at every stage of digital interaction. Doing so protects companies’ data from hackers who might gain access to the system via compromised devices.
The ESF recommends that the security of a network slice be continuously monitored for malicious activity using multiple network monitoring solutions. This can be accomplished in three ways: with an automated, real-time monitoring tool that detects and reports threats, through intelligence-driven tools that identify suspicious activities, or by using both simultaneously.

Are Your Networks at Risk with Network Slicing?

Are Your Networks at Risk with Network Slicing?

Can Network Slicing Truly Protect Against Cyber Threats?

Network slicing is the capability of creating distinct virtual networks on top of a shared physical network. Each slice can be assigned to an individual domain or use case, giving operators the flexibility to meet more demands while increasing efficiency and dependability.
Network slicing can provide a solution to some of the network complexity issues caused by 5G, but it also presents new security risks. According to NSA, CISA, and ODNI reports, network slicing could be vulnerable to DoS attacks, configuration or malware injection attacks, and misconfigured system controls.
The NSA, CISA, and ODNI recommend that operators implement security practices such as zero trust architecture, multi-layer security, cross-domain solutions, post-quantum cryptography, and isolation to mitigate these risks. These techniques are essential in guaranteeing confidentiality, integrity, and availability for network slices.
These strategies go further than the basic requirements for secure network slicing, which include isolating resources and control within one slice from other slices and preventing access to unauthorized users. This involves using multi-factor authentication, centralized monitoring, and device verification.
Although these security measures can help keep networks and data safe, they must also be integrated into the existing network management tools used by mobile network operators. These systems may not have been designed with 5G network slicing in mind, but instead, they focus on network performance, fraud detection, revenue assurance, and other metrics.
As network slicing becomes more widespread, the NSA, CISA, and ODNI urge operators to implement cybersecurity best practices and a multi-domain strategy for protecting their network slicing activities. They emphasize that network slicing should be managed across all 5G ecosystems: core, transport, and access networks included.
This task is particularly complex, as it calls for the integration of various technologies and processes specific to the 5G platform. These include software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).
Security slicing implementations necessitate the expertise of both technical engineers and cyber security specialists. According to NSA, CISA, and OPNI, early adopters of network slicing should utilize specialists experienced in both technologies for optimal protection during their implementation.

Can Network Slicing Truly Protect Against Cyber Threats?

Can Network Slicing Truly Protect Against Cyber Threats?

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