Threats to 4G LTE networks behind new Nokia security unit

on . Posted in News Analysis

The move towards virtualised networks, which has been exciting the industry during the past 12 months, has one unexpected downside; it could be more vulnerable to threats.

This is one of the reasons that Nokia has launched a dedicated security unit to ensure its products have security functionality built in. 

[Read more: Nokia boosts security pitch with dedicated new unit] 

It launches on 1 June and follows the announcement earlier this year of a forthcoming security centre in Berlin. The new unit, which will sit within Nokia's mobile broadband business, will act in a governing role towards the German centre.

Phil Twist, Head of Portfolio Marketing for Networks at Nokia, says the increasing ubiquity of LTE, the first all-IP mobile broadband, means that there is greater demand for security products. 

"With this planned new organisation we expect to be able to ensure security is considered as an inherent part of every product and service during the design phase as well as address new business models and special requirements typical to this segment, to further strengthen our foothold in security," Twist tells Mobile Europe.

He adds that the potential threats to LTE could increase as operators increasingly virtualise parts of their networks:

“Moving network elements to the cloud implies accessing network resources which may physically be located outside of an operator’s own premises and to some extent outside of the operator’s direct control: using shared third party transport connections and potentially sharing data centre or data storage facilities.

"Each interface to the external world and each network element needs to have security considerations carefully designed in to the architecture to ensure that the entire network integrity and security – as well as performance – is ensured."

Part of the work of the unit will be ensuring that new products will have the likes of industry standard solutions such as IPSec or firewalls, or Nokia's own Mobile Guard product, built in to ensure they are safe, Twist says.

He adds work will continue with the likes of Infoblox, Instanet, Juniper, F-Secure to implement their products into network's infrastructure. 

"We are also working with open source industry initiatives such as the OpenSSL foundation, contributing key security IPR to be used across the industry. And we work with many of the world’s leading network operators to ensure both current and future network architectures are properly secured and proofed against known security flaws."

So what now for the Berlin centre? Due to begin work by the end of this year, Twist says it will be used to test and demonstrate security products that protect both networks and end users. 

He says: "Our aim is to provide deep insights in threat scenarios of 3G/LTE networks like DDoS (denial of service), passive voice interception or security risks such as malware downloads, bot infections, high risk web applications, data loss and more. The security centre is planned to be equipped with security building blocks that help provide hands-on enabling and recommendations on how to eliminate threats and resolve security issue in mobile networks."