This new vulnerability in 5G networks allows intercepting data & performing DoS attacks

A group of specialists revealed the finding of a security flaw in the architecture of 5G networks and virtualized network functions. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow threat actors to access potentially sensitive information, as well as the ability to deploy denial of service (DoS) attacks between different segments of the 5G network, exposing business customers to dangerous cyberattacks.

This flaw could cause serious cybersecurity risks employing the technique known as network division, although experts point out that at the moment the risk of exploitation in the wild is really low.

On network division, experts mention that this technique allows mobile operators to segment their central network into multiple virtual blocks, which provide different resources and prioritize certain types of traffic. This technique allows mobile operators to provide priority care to certain organizations, including healthcare services, critical infrastructure, and even entertainment.

AdaptiveMobile Security experts examined 5G core networks that contain both shared and dedicated network features, discovering that when a network has these “hybrid” network functions, there is a lack of mapping between application and transport layer identities.

As mentioned above, this flaw could cause both operators and customers to compromise their sensitive information, including location data: “While 5G technology is driving the mobile industry to a new level, there must be a broader change of mindset to protect networks through standards agencies, workgroups, operators, and suppliers” , he mentions, AdaptiveMobile Security’s research director, Dr. Silke Holtmanns.

At this time, researchers are trying to determine whether the mechanisms of existing 5G standards will be enough to stop threat actors. For this, experts describe three main attack scenarios based on a failure that is apparently impossible to patch:

  • Extraction of user data, including location details
  • Denial of service against other network functions
  • Access to a network function and related information from another vertical client

Finally, experts mention that as more network infrastructure moves to cloud deployments, hacking tools could become more functional: “The actual impact of these attacks is limited only by the reduced use of 5G networks globally,” concludes the report. To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.