Press Release

100% of 4G networks are susceptible to denial of service attacks; 5G is not immune

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, April 23, 2020

By Positive Technologies

The number of successful denial of service attacks on networks using the Diameter protocol increased by 3% from 2018 (38%) to 2019 (41%), representing a direct threat to IoT devices and showing that mobile operators They need to continually update your cyber defenses. The information comes from the report “Security assessment of Diameter networks”, published by Positive Technologies, a global cybersecurity company.

The Diameter signaling protocol is used to authenticate and authorize messages and information distribution in 4G networks. The vulnerabilities in the protocol mean that 5G networks, built on the networks of the previous generation, will inherit the same threats, such as tracking the location of users and obtaining confidential data.

To assess network security, Positive Technologies researchers simulated the actions of cybercriminals, and their attempts to infiltrate mobile networks were 100% successful. Experts have found that the biggest threat is denial of service attacks, affecting 4G and 5G users.

According to Giovani Henrique, CEO of Positive Technologies for Latin America, many of the main operators are already beginning to implement their 5G networks and it will be necessary to maintain security ahead of any network design. “If this is not done, your 5G networks will not be immune to the same vulnerabilities as the previous generation networks. The implementation of late security means that later on, problems will inevitably arise and operators will be forced to modernize security, which will affect their original budget,” he says.

For the executive, as the world becomes more interconnected, the threat landscape expands and the consequences become even more dangerous. "In the last two years, there have been no improvements in the sector in terms of strengthening security measures in the Diameter protocol, which is worrying," he says.

"Gartner predicts that 25 billion IoT devices will be connected by 2021. Therefore, a denial of service attack becomes much bigger than a slow Internet connection, preventing the user from posting a photo on Instagram," he explains. “It can cripple cities that are starting to use IoT devices in a variety of ways, from national infrastructure to industry. If an alarm system is not activated during an emergency, for example, it can literally be a life-and-death situation,” he warns.

According to Henrique, mobile operators today do not have the resources and equipment necessary to carry out a comprehensive analysis of traffic, making it difficult to distinguish between false and legitimate subscribers. "Correct filtering of incoming messages is required and operators must use threat detection systems that analyze signal traffic in real time and detect illegitimate activity from external hosts, in addition to reporting configuration errors according to the guidelines of GSMA," he concludes.

The Positive Technologies report is the penultimate in a four-part series on telecommunications security, revealing the greatest threats and vulnerabilities in the existing mobile network ecosystem. The research is based on studies of the networks of 28 telecommunications operators in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, between 2018 and 2019.

About Positive Technologies

Positive Technologies is a global cyber security company, based in Europe. Its telecommunications computer security solution helps network operators improve their business performance and protect their customers and services. Offering increased visibility into infrastructure vulnerabilities and ensuring customer services, Positive Technologies helps increase customer confidence, drive revenue with value-added security services, and protect emerging telecommunications technologies such as 5G and IoT.

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