Security of a Reconverging Future
The world stops for a few days to delve into revolutionizing technologies at TIA’s Network of the Future conference. This year brings the potential of 5G, NFV, SDN, big data, internet of things and more under the spotlight. Security of evolving technology is a continuous process. Security is neither a product, service nor an isolated science. It belongs intermeshed with every one of these emerging technologies to ensure the protection of systems and high value information riding on them.
We are immersed in an ocean of electronic interconnectedness of technology, data and newfound intelligence. The broadband wireless capabilities of LTE and 5G bring streaming multimedia to the network edge, into the palms of the consumer. Sensors previously limited to industrial automation are now implanted in everyday consumer electronics bringing “personal infrastructure” to life with the internet of things. Savvy smart cars promise to arrive on roads that rely on vehicular adhoc networks (VANETs) for intelligent traffic management and “infotained” travel experience.
Each new electronic presence can contribute to the mass of information gathered by big data platforms, and underlying it all the abandonment of discrete boxes for each network function, shifting to the agile world of virtualisation. The plethora of development at numerous layers (infrastructure, access, network, application) points to an era of yet another new convergence of systems and information. Security cannot afford to be an afterthought:
Big Data: With volume, velocity and variety streaming into the big data environment, it can become an attractive hot spot for security attacks. Typically designed to operate within trusted environments, big data platforms do not have advanced security natively built into them. The infrastructure, as well as data, both in storage and in transit, require thorough protection.
Network Function Virtualisation (NFV): While NFV continues to penetrate the market with CAGR of 51.6 percent over 2013-2018 , a corresponding security virtualisation is lagging uptake. In addition to traditional approaches to securing NFV which focuses on perimeter security, virtual appliances should be adequately configured to enhance security mechanisms which include managing interoperability with multiple hypervisors and high performance network appliances, and access controls among others.
Internet of Things: As countless devices and sensors acquire IP addresses and start communicating on the public internet, this fledgling technology is vulnerable to end point tampering, signal interference, interception, attacks and exploits. Both critical infrastructure (power production, manufacturing etc.) as well as personal infrastructure (medical devices, home appliance controls, automobiles etc.) need to be carefully secured with adequate security measures in compliance with industry standards.
4G/5G: Broadband wireless has led to a massive explosion in the number of endpoints that need to be monitored and managed whilst protecting network assets and sensitive data. Increasing multimedia rich traffic requires advanced security solutions that are application aware. Geo-location tagging, an assortment of voice and web services and social media usage make the ill informed user’s privacy and security significantly more vulnerable.
Connected Cars: Vehicular networks require secure self identification to allow services as electronic licence plates, toll payment, localized traffic information, entertainment or remote repair diagnostics to be securely delivered to the vehicle. In addition, active peer to peer vehicular communication can be prone to malfunctioning nodes and false information. As a result, the users’ security and privacy requires strong authentication, authorization, confidentiality, integrity and non-repudiation. Advanced security is imperative.
As we run forth to embrace operational and functional efficiencies with technical conveniences, no magic bullet (at the time of this writing) has yet been conjured up to address security. In fact, the cyber threatscape continues to be speckled with an unprecedented continuum of activity. As such, it behoves us to firmly integrate security into the Networks of our Future.
- Security is an integral part of technology lifecycle (from day 0 design on)
- Global Security Standards and its corresponding evolution in emerging technology is critical.
 http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/2768583/global_network_function_virtualization_market,[Online], Accessed 19 May 2014
Daksha Bhasker, MS, MBA, CISM, has over a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry working in various roles including business intelligence, strategy planning, business management operations and controls.
For the past six years her role has encompassed SOx compliance, complex technical solutions and security risk management.
Daksha currently works with the network technology development team at Bell Canada.