First-class cybersecurity management is both a necessity and a major challenge for the 5G network and the applications and businesses that will be using it. The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and eight Finnish companies contributed their specialist expertise to an international development project.
The jump from the 4G network to the substantially faster and more efficient 5G network will revolutionise society. Internet use is proliferating, and even conservative estimates expect traffic to multiply. This represents a challenge for information security and undisrupted operation of the network, as well as the services using it. Another factor that makes it difficult to ensure security is the basic structure of the network.
"The basic structure of the 5G network includes much more software than in the 4G network. This provides more freedom for network developers and new business developers, but it also carries risks," explains Reijo Savola, Principal Scientist, Cybersecurity at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
VTT and eight Finnish companies joined forces to hunt down the weakest links in the network and develop cybersecurity solutions for them as part of the SENDATE-CelticPlus-Eureka cluster project. Savola, who acted as the Finnish national coordinator for the project, says that the companies complemented each other well and every company also had the chance to develop its specialist expertise in cooperation with foreign companies.
Secure products for international markets
Airbus, which was involved in the project, is working in Finland to develop communication solutions for the public authorities, covering the needs of the police, emergency services, defence forces and other critical organisations. The authorities place special requirements on communication: a high rate of availability and reliability, absolute information security and very low latency in operation.
"The reliability and security of telecommunications and group messaging solutions are fundamental requirements for our systems. The project involved developing these aspects for new virtual service platforms. Virtual service platforms enable solutions to be more flexible and cost-efficient. This will significantly increase our competitiveness on international markets," says Tapio Savunen, a Director from Airbus Defence and Space Oy.
Comiq Oy, which specialises in software testing, developed a methodology for evaluating security risks, as well as a tool concept for security testing on software-based networks."Alongside actual service development, the project provided us with a lot of international contacts, and we were able to consider ideas such as working on joint deliveries with several vendors. Our understanding of international security markets expanded dramatically," says Tony Keisala, Business Manager from Comiq.
Insta DefSec Ltd focused on secure communications on closed networks, as well as using secured identities in specialised operating environments. "We reached the technical targets of our project, and now we will continue to develop a new product and service concept. Thanks to the consortium work, we also began collaborating with Finnish and German corporate partners," says Marko Hautakangas, Vice President, Cyber Security from Insta DefSec.
Elisa Corporation provided a network operator's perspective, and also improved the automatic prevention of security threats and the resilience of its cloud service platform as part of the project. The cloud service environment was also examined by Softera Oy, which offers business support systems for companies and maintains its own data centre.
"We improved the security of our products substantially on this project, making them more attractive to large international companies," says Teemu Nyberg, Managing Director of Softera.
F-Secure Corporation focused on digital forensics technologies, which help experts at companies to investigate online attacks. Other Finnish partners in the project included Second Nature Security Oy and SSH Communications Security Corporation.
VTT participated in the project by developing cybersecurity measurement, anomaly detection and visualisation tools and principles of automated adaptation, which support the creation of a secure 5G network and related services.