The 5G toolbox of defense

For the mobile communications industry, security has always held a prominent role. However, the onset of 5G – which introduces new network architectures, services and devices – raises the stakes and increases the challenge for network operators. 5G is set to affect almost every aspect of life through hosting more critical infrastructure and enabling the development of a digital environment. This makes any breach potentially catastrophic, and governments are taking note – it’s therefore imperative … More

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Network traffic and consumption trends in 2020

As COVID-19 lockdown measures were implemented in March-April 2020, consumer and business behavioral changes transformed the internet’s shape and how people use it virtually overnight. Many networks experienced a year’s worth of traffic growth (30-50%) in just a few weeks, Nokia reveals.

network traffic 2020

By September, traffic had stabilized at 20-30% above pre-pandemic levels, with further seasonal growth to come. From February to September, there was a 30% increase in video subscribers, a 23% increase in VPN end-points in the U.S., and a 40-50% increase in DDoS traffic.

Ready for COVID-19

In the decade prior to the pandemic, the internet had already seen massive and transformative changes – both in service provider networks and in the evolved internet architectures for cloud content delivery. Investment during this time meant the networks were in good shape and mostly ready for COVID-19 when it arrived.

Manish Gulyani, General Manager and Head of Nokia Deepfield, said: “Never has so much demand been put on the networks so suddenly, or so unpredictably. With networks providing the underlying connectivity fabric for business and society to function as we shelter-in-place, there is a greater need than ever for holistic, multi-dimensional insights across networks, services, applications and end users.”

The networks were made for this

While the networks held up during the biggest demand peaks, data from September 2020 indicates that traffic levels remain elevated even as lockdowns are eased; meaning, service providers will need to continue to engineer headroom into the networks for future eventualities.

Content delivery chains are evolving

Demand for streaming video, low-latency cloud gaming and video conferencing, and fast access to cloud applications and services, all placed unprecedented pressure on the internet service delivery chain.

Just as Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) grew in the past decade, it’s expected the same will happen with edge/far edge cloud in the next decade – bringing content and compute closer to end users.

Residential broadband networks have become critical infrastructure

With increased needs (upstream traffic was up more than 30%), accelerating rollout of new technologies – such as 5G and next-gen FTTH – will go a long way towards improving access and connectivity in rural, remote and underserved areas.

Better analytical insights enable service providers to keep innovating and delivering flawless service and loyalty-building customer experiences.

Deep insight into network traffic is essential

While the COVID-19 era may prove exceptional in many ways, the likelihood is that it has only accelerated trends in content consumption, production and delivery that were already underway.

Service providers must be able to have real-time, detailed network insights at their disposal – fully correlated with internet traffic insights – to get a holistic perspective on their network, services and consumption.

Security has never been more important

During the pandemic, DDoS traffic increased between 40-50%. As broadband connectivity is now largely an essential service, protecting network infrastructure and services becomes critical.

Agile and cost effective DDoS detection and automated mitigation are becoming paramount mechanisms to protect service provider infrastructures and services.

Attacks on IoT devices continue to escalate

Attacks on IoT devices continue to rise at an alarming rate due to poor security protections and cybercriminals use of automated tools to exploit these vulnerabilities, according to Nokia.

attacks IoT devices

IoT devices most infected

The report found that internet-connected, or IoT, devices now make up roughly 33% of infected devices, up from about 16% in 2019. The report’s findings are based on data aggregated from monitoring network traffic on more than 150 million devices globally.

Adoption of IoT devices, from smart home security monitoring systems to drones and medical devices, is expected to continue growing as consumers and enterprises move to take advantage of the high bandwidth, ultra-low latency, and fundamentally new networking capabilities that 5G mobile networks enable, according to the report.

The rate of success in infecting IoT devices depends on the visibility of the devices to the internet, according to the report. In networks where devices are routinely assigned public facing internet IP addresses, a high infection rate is seen.

In networks where carrier-grade Network Address Translation is used, the infection rate is considerably reduced, because the vulnerable devices are not visible to network scanning.

Cybercriminals taking advantage of the pandemic

The report also reveals there is no let up in cybercriminals using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal personal data through a variety of types of malware. One in particular is disguised as a Coronavirus Map application – mimicking the legitimate and authoritative Coronavirus Map issued by Johns Hopkins University – to take advantage of the public’s demand for accurate information about COVID-19 infections, deaths and transmissions.

But the bogus application is used to plant malware on victims’ computers to exploit personal data. “Cybercriminals are playing on people’s fears and are seeing this situation as an opportunity to promote their agendas,” the report says. The report urges the public to install applications only from trusted app stores, like Google and Apple.

Bhaskar Gorti, President and Chief Digital Officer, Nokia, said: “The sweeping changes that are taking place in the 5G ecosystem, with even more 5G networks being deployed around the world as we move to 2021, open ample opportunities for malicious actors to take advantage of vulnerabilities in IoT devices.

“This report reinforces not only the critical need for consumers and enterprises to step up their own cyber protection practices, but for IoT device producers to do the same.”

BridgeComm partners with Nokia to enable ultra-broadband connectivity and faster adoption of 5G

BridgeComm announced its partnership agreement with Nokia in efforts to develop high-speed optical communications. Leveraging BridgeComm’s background in freespace optical technology and Nokia’s portfolio of network equipment and services backed by Nokia Bell Labs, the partnership will facilitate faster deployment of 5G networks.

With opportunities for both public and private sectors, this partnership will bring about an ultra-high-speed throughput solution that will provide a faster and more secure network optimized for citizens and governments alike.

“While our relationship is still in its early stages, Nokia has already proven to be a great partner for us,” says Barry Matsumori, BridgeComm CEO. “We’re pursuing government and commercial opportunities, leveraging each other’s strengths, and we foresee great potential for faster connections, more security online and with greater agility than ever before.”

“BridgeComm’s expertise in delivering high speed optics over-the-air combined with Nokia’s industry-leading high-speed optical equipment and expertise will support the delivery of 100 Gbps and beyond throughput – all without needing to lay fiber,” said Mike Calabrese, Senior Vice President for the Americas at Nokia Enterprise.

“This opens the door to a wide variety of applications that our commercial and government customers are seeking, such as enabling last mile connectivity in 5G networks and High Capacity Encrypted Free Space Optics.”

The two companies have secured a promising collaborative relationship, as BridgeComm has already integrated some of Nokia’s high-speed optical equipment into its systems with successful initial lab demonstrations.

BridgeComm’s global network of optical ground stations provides high-bandwidth, high-security solutions for rapid point-to-point data transmissions.

How to implement expedited security strategies during a crisis

Cybersecurity professionals know all too well that crises tend to breed new threats to organizational security. The current COVID-19 pandemic is evidence of this. Health agencies are being attacked, massive phishing operations are underway, and security flaws in leading communications platforms are coming to light.

Even on an individual basis, people are more susceptible to scams, fraud and manipulation in times of fear. From January 1 until today, the US Federal Trade Commission has received over 124,140 fraud and ID theft reports related to COVID-19, with people reporting losses upwards of $80.3 million dollars.

Despite the presence of a robust cybersecurity infrastructure, enterprise systems are not battle-tested to secure an entire workforce that is now based at home. Cybersecurity analysts can confirm that to properly manage a remote digital workforce, an enterprise should focus its security measures on three key pillars:

1. Doubling up on identity access management: Enacting multifactor authentication and cycling passwords are critically important during times of crisis when phishing attempts spike and malicious hackers have an avenue into company data and resources.

2. Broaden connectivity awareness: Shield employees from parallel Wi-Fi networks set up by bad actors by increasing IT awareness and broadening VPN access. Unaware employees that connect to the parallel (rogue) network by mistake can put the company at risk.

3. Reassess policies and procedures: Companies operating today are in unfamiliar territory and should always be reassessing current cyber risk policies and procedures in order to identify and evaluate and identify risks associated with potential threats and security weaknesses.

Overcoming security challenges in a crisis

As we’ve seen with COVID-19, a crisis can disrupt business significantly. Without plans for how to deal with such a disruption, businesses will face an overwhelming challenge of managing and securing network infrastructure as operations shift to accommodate changes within the organization. It is paramount that enterprises determine ahead of time what to do differently, should a time of crisis rear its head. This also translates into a major opportunity for security teams that can proactively begin to analyze current security measures and develop a business plan of what the future might look like.

As part of this plan, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) should take center-stage. Most modern networks are growing far too complex for humans to secure manually, and fighting a growing number of threats requires automated operational workflows and integrated threat intelligence.

In addition, a high degree of system integration with these technologies enables greater collaboration between security analysts, no matter where they’re located. It is also important to embed threat intelligence across multiple vectors (e.g. endpoints, privileged user access, machine communications), so that Communication Service Providers (CSPs) can detect and analyze potential threats in real time.

Security teams that have integrated their networks with automated, cognitively intelligent software, whether it be AI or machine learning (ML), have already been privy to its benefits. With access to dynamic scanning for threats and insight into potential vulnerabilities, teams can tackle challenges quickly, with more visibility and effectiveness.

These new software capabilities enable security operations teams to:

  • Oversee, manage and limit access to key operational systems and assets within the network to ensure that remote employees do not inadvertently or deliberately misuse privileged information.
  • Identify network vulnerabilities automatically, detect threats sooner, and reduce the number of false positives, saving time and preventing alert fatigue.
  • Flag and respond immediately to cyberattacks, minimizing the time needed to address each incident and the overall impact.

Automation and cognitive intelligence are critical to guarding enterprise infrastructure against scams, spear-phishing and zero-day attacks that can evade traditional signature-based security. By adopting these capabilities today, CSPs can set themselves up for longer-term networking success. With the rise of 5G, implementing strong security policies and procedures for complex networks has become more critical than ever. Through software that utilizes automation, AI and ML, operators can provide end-to-end quality across a diverse range of security use cases and business models in 5G.

Nokia implements Keysight’s AI software into vendor’s 5G manufacturing processes

Keysight Technologies, a leading technology company that helps enterprises, service providers and governments accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world, has validated an innovative new software approach, leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics, in Nokia’s 5G base station manufacturing processes, significantly improving test efficiency.

The two companies have expanded a collaboration to help the leading network equipment manufacturer optimize test processes critical in advanced manufacturing. Keysight combined expertise in automated test and cloud-computing with machine learning (ML) applied to Nokia’s historical manufacturing data to demonstrate significant reductions in test times.

Following the successful validation, Nokia has moved to implement Keysight’s advanced AI software into the vendor’s 5G manufacturing processes.

5G equipment is considerably more complex compared to legacy technology equipment, which is increasing test times in manufacturing processes. As 5G deployments ramp up around the world, manufacturers of 5G equipment look for ways to optimize test processes, allowing them to maintain competitive delivery schedules.

Keysight used advanced software technology developed by Keysight Laboratories, the company’s applied research arm, to analyze vast amounts of historical manufacturing data provided by Nokia. This allowed Nokia to make data driven test strategy decisions and develop optimized manufacturing test plans.

“Keysight’s extended 5G collaboration with Nokia, initiated more than three years ago, signals an inflection point in the commercialization of the next generation of mobile communications,” said Giampaolo Tardioli, vice president and general manager of Keysight’s network access group.

“By combining leading hardware and advanced software solutions, Keysight is well-positioned to help wireless manufacturers such as Nokia capture the full potential of 5G.”

The new advanced AI software capabilities will be integrated into the company’s PathWave Software Suite. Keysight’s close collaborations, multi-domain technology expertise in areas such as AI and cloud-based test capabilities will help a wider industry address complex manufacturing test requirements.

“Nokia’s 5G technology will make the extraordinary come alive for every industry, every business and every experience,” said Erja Sankari, vice president of Supply Chain Engineering at Nokia.

“Close collaborations such as the one we enjoy with Keysight help us create world-leading intelligent factories and support our strategy to deliver 5G solutions that exceed customers’ expectations.”

Redefining security KPIs for 5G service providers

Telco security professionals are missing the mark when understanding their consumers’ priorities, according to KPMG’s recent report. In the wake of a security breach, consumers seek proof that the incident isn’t repeatable, while security executives prioritize apologies. The 5G telco industry isn’t exempt from the “the customer is always right” mentality, so pleasing a consumer is – or at least should be – a major business goal. This disconnect between consumer expectations and security teams’ … More

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