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December 11, 2014

Mobile networks urged to bolster LTE security

Mobile security threats have turned out to be one of the weakest links in network security.

By CBR Staff Writer

In the midst of a growing number of LTE connected devices, Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Dr. Martin Nuss calls for mobile networks to bolster LTE security.

Nuss said that the mobile network air interface links have been encrypted by default, as required by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications, while applications may not be encrypted.

The infrastructure has to be secured firstly, including network timing, which plays a key role in the operation of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) and future 5G networks, Nuss added.

Martin Nuss said: "No single security scheme can solve all potential vulnerabilities. "That’s why it’s imperative to secure applications, networks and devices."

"Authentication, authorization and accounting, combined with data encryption, are commonplace for the applications layer.

"We as an industry now need to take a more integrated approach to security and apply the same principles to the network infrastructure and device/link layer.

"As more and more ‘things,’ in addition to mobile devices for humans, connect to LTE networks, these security concerns will become paramount for the Internet of Things as well."

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He claimed that mobile networks, deploying extensive small cells required to bolster LTE and LTE-A capacity, are naturally less secure due to their ease of access at street-level.

Vitesse suggests encryption at the lowest layer possible in the OSI stack will be the ideal way to protect these links.

According to a recent forecast, global LTE connected devices shipments will surpass 1.89 billion devices by late 2019.

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