TelecomTalk Interviews: Futurex on 5G Security, Challenges for Indian Telcos and More

5G is based on networking technology that uses the HTTP protocol and RESTful web APIs. Though most providers are already taking precautions to secure their networks, cybercriminals already have toolsets for exploiting the protocols on which they run, said Ruchin Kumar, VP, South Asia, Futurex.

Highlights

  • 5G networks are expected to bring a number of benefits, including lower latency, higher bandwidth, and better wireless connectivity.
  • 5G is based on networking technology that uses the HTTP protocol and RESTful web APIs.
  • IoT is an industry poised to benefit from the better connectivity of 5G, so providers will have to continue developing security standards to protect IoT devices against any threats to 5G networks.

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The process of implementing 5G will take time and expense, but more examples of 5G use cases will need to be analysed to observe additional challenges. 5G networks are beginning their lifecycles in specific cities throughout India, but larger enterprises have the option to establish private 5G networks, said Ruchin Kumar, VP, South Asia, Futurex. Check out the entire conversation between TelecomTalk and Futurex below.

5G is going to transform the way consumers and organisations are able to access their data. Can you explain how?

5G networks are expected to bring a number of benefits, including lower latency, higher bandwidth, and better wireless connectivity. However, access to 5G technology is not yet widespread. Some analysts have predicted that roughly 25% of the world’s population will be able to access 5G within the next several years, and the process of adopting it will entail some expense. However, market forecasts for 5G are optimistic, particularly in Asia and North America. As more and more 5G networks are rolled out, more ways to apply it are being discovered.

Why is 5G more vulnerable when compared to 4G or 3G technology? What are the risks and challenges associated with 5G?

5G is based on networking technology that uses the HTTP protocol and RESTful web APIs. Though most providers are already taking precautions to secure their networks, cybercriminals already have toolsets for exploiting the protocols on which they run. For example, cyberattacks against IoT devices are sharply on the rise. IoT is an industry poised to benefit from the better connectivity of 5G, so providers will have to continue developing security standards to protect IoT devices against any threats to 5G networks.

Can you list down some of the technology and policy-related challenges Indian telcos may be facing while implementing 5G?

The process of implementing 5G will take time and expense, but more examples of 5G use cases will need to be analysed to observe additional challenges. 5G networks are beginning their lifecycles in specific cities throughout India, but larger enterprises have the option to establish private 5G networks. So the policy will need to address the different deployment models of 5G in a comprehensive sense —both on the level of the individual consumer using the 5G networks and on the enterprise level. 5G providers must take things like the placement of 5G towers into consideration: individual service can vary based on where the nearest 5G tower or relay is located. They will also have to determine 5G service plan structures for both individual and enterprise customers.

It is said that despite additional safeguards, 5G networks will be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Why is it so, and what organisations must do to ensure a cyber-secure environment in the 5G world?

5G network vulnerability is predicated on cybercriminals finding new attack vectors and repurposing familiar ones. Hardware-based cryptography is typically the most reliable way of securing both kinds of attack vectors. Encryption with HSMs can be used to encrypt databases, applications, and user information. PKI and CA can sign calls and establish mutual trust between network components, which is crucial to network security. Trust is, in the end, the most important consideration. Investing in a scalable, high-availability cryptographic solution will ensure that trust is maintained in the long term as the technology progresses.

Telcos in India and other parts of the world are working relentlessly to ensure a seamless 5G network to customers. Can you draw a comparison between the two?

The greatest number of successful 5G deployments seem to be clustered in Asia and North America. India closely follows international cryptographic standards (such as PCI) and is expected to adhere to an equally high standard of security. Especially considering India’s already-high standards of cryptographic security represented by the IT Act, 2000 and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). In particular, the payments and financial services sector of India is growing fast, creating a demand for more powerful networking technology.

What kind of security solutions are in demand from telcos and companies looking to benefit from 5G?

General-purpose encryption and key management are common security solutions. Particularly, PKI is required to authenticate messages and identities. To establish PKI, an organisation needs an effective CA and/or key management solution that can manage keys used to secure network components. Telcos often deal with large, distributed networks, and benefit from a streamlined solution that can handle all of the above functions in a centralised manner.

How is Futurex helping telcos to ensure security of sensitive consumer data and adhere to the directives laid down by the government towards the same?

Futurex solutions are certified under the international PCI PTS HSM compliance standard, which requires them to pass thorough physical and logical stress tests. There is some carryover between the strict PCI standard and other international standards as well, making Futurex solutions excel on a global level. The high level of compliance helps Futurex offer telecommunications solutions that are highly trusted.

Futurex is active in countries where 5G has already been launched. Do you see scope for some or all of its solutions in India or the country needs a different approach altogether?

India closely adhered to the highest international standards, such as PCI HSM. This makes the best solutions in North America viable in India as well. Futurex technology is highly customisable, meaning that if there are any changes that need to be made in order to achieve new functionality or compliance, they can easily be applied by Futurex’s Solutions Architects. To assist with data localisation requirements, Futurex established data centers in Hyderabad and Mumbai so that data is both process and stored without leaving India’s borders. Small adjustments are to be expected, but for global vendors like Futurex with an established presence in India, the transition will likely be swift and straight-forward.

Tell us about Futurex operations in India?

In addition to operating local data centers in India, Futurex has established long-term partnerships with Indian resellers, government organisations, banks, and corporations. Futurex has both sales and support teams located in India with in-depth knowledge of the market and industries that require our services. Customers in India benefit from Futurex’s customised, customer-focused approach to cryptography, as well as to our fully certified 24x7x365 support team.

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