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News | Oct. 27, 2020

NSA Secures 5G Through Partnerships

By NSA Strategic Communications

5G icon web chart over a cityscape.
5G icon web chart over a cityscape.
5G icon web chart over a cityscape.
5G icon web chart over a cityscape.
Photo By: Photo
VIRIN: 201027-D-IM742-2001

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). We are proud to partner with the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cybersecurity Alliance to highlight information throughout this month to help keep all of us safer online. As NCSAM comes to a close, we look to our NSA experts to give a general overview on a popular topic: 5G technology.

NSA’s Cybersecurity mission includes working to secure future technologies. As imminently emerging technology, 5G will change the way both military and National Security Systems operate, and NSA is partnering across industry and government, along with standards bodies, to support the construction of a secure network.

5G, or fifth generation network, promises to be a major upgrade from previous generations. New 5G technologies will support many new and exciting use cases. The increase in speed will enable a new generation of innovation and business to flourish.

The impact of 5G technologies will be felt well beyond NSS to include numerous IoT devices transforming our personal and professional lives. These devices are smarter and will use 5G to provide new edge computing capabilities, greatly impacting many parts of our society, including manufacturing (through its impact on robotics and Smart Warehouses), transportation (such as smart cars and the smart infrastructure they rely on), and healthcare (through impacts on tele-health and even remote surgery).

The full evolution to 5G will take time – time to develop the supporting standards, produce the technology, and upgrade the infrastructure across the U.S. and around the world to support the full extent of this technology. Since our customers will be using 5G, strengthening U.S. infrastructure is vital to maintaining our military and economic edge.


How NSA is Engaging

NSA has partnered with fellow government agencies to support the security of 5G. Our Enduring Security Framework (ESF) team has been working with our partners at the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Council, and more. We are partnering with industry to deep dive into threats, standards, cloud, and analytics. Each of these areas will have a dedicated public-private partnership effort to examine the risks associated with their subject matter and pursue technical solutions. The cumulative goal is to jointly improve the ability of the 5G infrastructure to identify and build threat models, detect threats in networks, recover from attacks, and securely leverage the benefits of virtualization.

To secure the full scope of 5G use cases, it is critical that strong cybersecurity practices are incorporated. The recently launched Center for Cybersecurity Standards (CCSS) looks at 5G from a viewpoint of securing NSS and contributing to working groups within standards bodies to secure 5G mobile infrastructure. Through engagements with 3GPP, ATIS, IETF and IEEE, CCSS is raising the bar for security in the 5G ecosystem and making sure secure options exist for use on NSS. As subject matter experts, NSA leverages our legacy in secure cryptography and network security to ensure 5G standards will protect NSS data by working with the carriers to ensure that they are requiring optional security settings.


Securing the Technologies that Support 5G

Looking further out on the 5G security horizon is our Research organization. Research is investigating the role that Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) can play in mitigating security risks by developing approaches to define expected behavioral patterns, leverage data analytics to detect abnormal patterns, maximize the zero trust model, and explore expansion into using AI/ML to enhance 5G cybersecurity. The ability to leverage analytics for better insight into network planning, automation, and orchestration is critical for managing the increased amount of data that will be occurring within the 5G network architecture.

As our world continues to grow more connected, NSA continues our mission to keep the nation secure. Through partnerships and collaboration, our support to securing 5G will not only help secure NSS and defense industrial base, it will help the whole-of-nation approach to cybersecurity.

Like what you’re reading and want to be part of this excitement? If you enjoy creatively driving outcomes for our Nation, NSA Cybersecurity is the place for you! Our diverse team of problem solvers collaborate across industry and government to prevent and eradicate cyber threats. Join the mission – visit for current openings.