5G Technology is fairly new in the world, but not powerless. The excitement around 5G is understandable as our imagination tries to get a grip on the upcoming 5G universe. At the moment, there’s a broad consensus that smartphones will become the least interesting item on the 5G menu because its true potential is far greater than earlier thought. From talking lampposts to predictive healthcare, the impact of 5G is going to be far-reaching and omnipresent.

On the surface, 5G is more secure than the previous spectrums. According to 3GPP, security enhancements are being brought about in phases. The following architecture explains Phase I of 5G’s security apparatus.

  • Primary authentication: similar to 4G with minor changes due to additional key agreements.
  • Secondary authentication: in contrast to 4G, there is a major change in using an Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). Apart from one-time passwords, such a protocol also supports tokens, smart cards, voice authentication, and biometrics for enhanced secure access.
  • Privacy: Some encryption types will ensure that a user’s primary user credentials are protected from unauthorized intrusions.
  • Central Unit – Distributed Unit split: 5G architecture allows for splitting between user authentication credentials on a central device and distant devices on edge. This means that if someone has access to your smart device, they can’t authenticate themselves locally because a central operator server manages the authentication. As the authentication is tied to EAP, you needn’t worry about rogues stealing your electronic health records.

In Conclusion :

With 5G, it won’t be possible for a hacker to identify a subscriber through IMSI catching attacks. With 2G, 3G, and even 4G, it was possible to identify a user’s credentials by tapping into the GSM base station. However, 5G will prevent the long-term identity of a user to be transmitted un-encrypted over radio waves. There is also research going on right now in 6G which will have speeds up to 1 Terabyte/second (~1024 Gbps). Clearly, we are moving to an era of ultra-high-speed networks. However, we still don’t know what consequences the implementation in real life will have.

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