If you’re anything like me, your mobile device is your lifeline, allowing you to be always on and connected to a network.  Smart devices, including our cars and appliances, are now connected to a network. We’ve seen steady advances in wireless technology and now we’re seeing trials of 5G connectivity, a phenomena that’s likely to bring life-changing innovations.

Those of us watching the Winter Olympics in South Korea have seen a major 5G trial taking place. Cameras attached to bobsleds are streaming live video showing the navigator’s view racing down the course.  This 5G technology is due to be rolled out by South Korean wireless carriers next year. In Canada, the US and elsewhere, mobile carriers are running tests and investing in new radio equipment and cell sites.

5G is bringing with it very high bandwidth and low latency with the result being very high traffic volumes entirely reliant on IP.  This comes at a time when advancements in the all-IP evolved packet core have left mobile networks, devices, and customers exposed to data breaches, internal attacks, DDoS, malware and Botnet attacks.

Managing network infrastructure has never been more risky. We’ve seen traditional approaches to security fail because solutions can’t  and don’t interoperate, so they lead to gaps in threat defenses and security blind spots that today’s hackers exploit. The industry average time between a compromise and the detection of a threat is between 100 to 200 days. Many IT organizations are struggling with too few resources at the same time that tighter security and faster time to detection has become a business requirement.

5G connectivity will unlock new opportunities and experiences with greater agility and lower cost. As businesses transition away from physical IT network infrastructures and into the public cloud, motivated and targeted attackers will be there.  Whether through insider threats, malware, spyware, ransomware or vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, attacks will continue to take many forms– through the device, the network, or the cloud.

The security of the SP network infrastructure, their business, and their customers requires a holistic approach.  The transition to 5G, virtualization, cloud technology and regulatory compliance initiatives mean that the potential number of attacks and threats on mobile networks are growing.  The time is now for Cisco’s 5G security architecture, a network architecture that is automated, dynamic and self-learning.

Cisco’s 5G Security Architecture

Cisco’s 5G security architecture combines artificial intelligence and deep learning to create a network that will orchestrate both physical and virtual resources with equal proficiency resulting in optimal network efficiencies. Network and context information is automated through the use of shared telemetry and cloud-processing to lower the time to detect and respond in a way that others cannot match. With this unique approach, Cisco has successfully lowered the time to detection from the industry average of 100 to 200 days to as low as four hours.

The benefits of a 5G security architecture include better optimization and new economic opportunities for you as mobile service providers and for your customers. This self-sizing, self-healing network will open these new opportunities through virtualization and self-service capabilities for the user.

5G Security Architecture and Security Pillar in Cisco’s 5G Now Portfolio

Cisco is the world’s largest cyber security company and the leading security provider to mobile service providers.  We addressed stringent security requirements across 4G, LTE, and now 5G networks with a 5G security architecture. Key aspects include enhanced visibility to see more inside of the EPC and to quickly identify threats and errors; segmentation to reduce the attack surface and the impact of an attack; threat protection to stop a breach across multiple points of the network; and, world-class threat intelligence from Cisco Talos.

At Mobile World Congress, Cisco announced that it is extending and refining its Security Architecture for Mobile Service Providers, building upon the comprehensive portfolio of threat-centric solutions to securely enable today’s and tomorrow’s 5G Mobile Networks.

This is addressed through the following new security offers and announcements for Service Providers, including:

  •  Cisco Stealthwatch for breach detection and visibility within Evolved Packet Core (EPC) in 5G, 4G, and LTE Mobile Networks. It offers enhanced network visibility within their EPC and network slices to detect threats and errors that can lead to data breaches in their mobile networks. Cisco Stealthwatch reduces their risk and exposure with greater awareness to speed response to potential breaches and helps to satisfy regulatory compliance requirements.
  •  Cisco announced a new Security Collaboration with NetNumber to deliver robust security solutions for mobile SPs to protect their revenue and information leaks on the Diameter and SS7 signalling interconnect interfaces. With the firewall solutions of NetNumber and Cisco combined, SPs can deliver greater security effectiveness with less cost and complexity.
  •  Cisco Umbrella provides the easiest and simplest security for SPs. It offers superior ROI through a simple attach motion with minimal disruption to the network, while enabling the SP to maintain overall end user control. Cisco Umbrella is unique in its ability to service all the market segments that SPs support today.

To help Service Providers drive monetization of new services, adding incremental revenue streams, Cisco’s broad portfolio of cloud-based managed security solutions including:

  • Cisco Stealthwatch Cloud helps SPs to grow their business by offering with new Cloud-Based Managed Network Security. With Stealthwatch, SPs gain increased speed to market, subscription flexibility, service reliability, and greater security effectiveness as they develop new services. Stealthwatch Cloud, which was built with service providers in mind, helps SPs to achieve their goals with shorter time to market and lower service introduction risk. SP-focused capabilities include multi-tenant subscriber management and billing features, allowing service providers to quickly deliver new services into new markets.
  • Cloud-Based Endpoint Portfolio including Cisco AMP for Endpoints, Cisco Umbrella, and Meraki Systems Manager to offer protection against advanced malware and threats – read the press release to learn more.

To learn more about Cisco security announcements for mobile operators, read the Cisco ‘5G Now’ Portfolio press release and Cisco SP Security solutions page on Cisco.com.



Dr. Gee Rittenhouse

Senior Vice President and General Manager

Security Business Group