Technology 2 min read

Researchers Discover Security Problems in 5G Protocol



A team of researchers from the University of Iowa and Purdue University has found several security breaches in 5G protocol.

5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technology, and it promises to deliver 100 times the speed of the current 4G.

As a result, the next-gen network will connect people together as well as machines. With its massive capacity, low latency, and multi-Gbps peak rate, 5G is set to play a crucial role in the Internet of Things.

Unfortunately, this next-generation mobile network may not be as secure as we would hope.

According to researchers, the protocol has dozens of vulnerabilities that could make attackers track users, along with other security issues. Following their findings, the team wrote and uploaded a paper describing how they identified the flaws in the 5G protocol.

Here’s how they did it.

Using 5GReasoner to Identify Security Flaws in 5G Protocol

To test the new protocol for vulnerabilities, the University of Iowa and Purdue University team built a tool called 5GReasoner. And this led to the discovery of 11 vulnerabilities in 5G protocol.

The tool enabled them to set up a radio base station to hack nearby phones. As a result, the researchers were able to obtain network IDs for local phones along with paging occasions.

With this level of access, the researchers could see the current location of a phone and track the person using it. Other activities that the security flaws in 5G protocol allow are:

  • Tracking mobile devices activities
  • Broadcasting phony emergency alerts to users in specific locations
  • Running a denial-of-service system to cut off access to designated networks

Law enforcement personnel and hackers can use these vulnerabilities for surveillance, say the researchers. But the most disturbing part of the report may be the ease of exploiting these flaws.

According to the researchers, anyone with a basic knowledge of 4G or 5G networks can hack the 5G protocol. What’s more, they only need a low-cost software to perform this breach.

The researchers reported the flaws to the GSM Association (GMSA), which is responsible for approving international phone protocol. However, the body doesn’t think the threat is as severe.

In response to the report, GSMA released a note describing the vulnerabilities in 5G protocol as nil or low impact.

Read More: China to Begin Nationwide 5G Network Rollout by October

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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