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NSA Guides On Threat Assessment, Best Practices for 5G Network Slicing

December 13, 2022

Enduring Security Framework (ESF) partners, along with experts from the National Security Agency (NSA) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), published their assessment of potential threats associated with 5G network slicing and strategies to help keep this emerging tech secure.

5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. 5G technology can provide increased data download and upload speeds, lower latency, and allow more devices to connect to the internet at the same time.

Network slicing is a 5G network architecture which allows mobile service providers to divide their network up into several independent “slices” in order to create specific virtual networks that cater to different clients and use cases. Today’s report specifically identifies management strategies to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of each network slice.

“The Department of Defense is transitioning 5G into its enterprise. Being able to do network slicing across the entire 5G system is a critical new capability that 5G provides over LTE. As important, the ability to use network slicing in a secure way is foundational if the Department is to take advantage of the feature at all,” said Andrew Thiessen, Chief Technologist, DOD 5G Cross Functional Team.

The threat and security considerations discussed in this assessment are intended for mobile service providers, hardware manufacturers, software developers, and system integrators that design, deploy, operate, or maintain 5G networks.

Today’s release led by NSA and CISA on behalf of the ESF, a public-private cross-sector working group, is intended to provide an informed methodology to design, deploy, operate, and maintain secure network slicing across private, hybrid, and public networks.

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