Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), today referred to as Multi-Access Edge Computing, is a network architecture concept that enables cloud computing and IT services environments at the edge of the cellular network (cell towers) and, de-facto, at the edge of any network. The value of MEC is that by running applications, and performing related processing tasks closer to the cellular customer, network congestion is reduced and applications perform better, enabling flexible and rapid deployment of new applications and services for customers.
MEC is commonly coupled with emerging 5G network deployments, which come with their own set of complications, all of which have to be considered when utilizing MEC on 5G. Researchers at the universities of Iowa and Purdue have identified 11 vulnerabilities in 5G networks:
- exposing of location
- downgrading of service
- running up of wireless bills
- tracking date/time when users call
- tracking when user text
- tracking when users browse the web
- plus, five additional 5G vulnerabilities that carried over from 3G and 4G, which are crucial as a lot of 5G networks are built on top of existing 4G infrastructures, thus inheriting these vulnerabilities
- further, content transferred has to be secured and encrypted end-to-end, and with 100% assurance that it’s accessed by the proper recipients.
Due to the low latency time requirements of 5G, subscriber and location information that needs to be encrypted and decrypted at every 5G cell cannot be done by any public key (PK) cryptography – whether it’s PKI or VIBE – thus requiring real-time mechanisms to solve these challenges, such as the inherent 5G network-slicing capability.
So, while VIBE cannot solve all the above problems, VIBE is able to efficiently support 5G networks in authenticating the communicating nodes, and securing any session-based 5G communication. Further, VIBE adds value by ensuring that the content of communicating 5G nodes is properly authenticated, and that data flowing over the network is always transmitted from the receiver to the recipient in an ironclad, encrypted manner. Further, session-based activities such as device registration, de-registration, and paging can all be easily and economically secured with VIBE.
Implementation of VIBE is also seamless as the technology interfaces at the application layer, thus ensuring agile, easy embedding into existing environments.
VIBE is also ideally suited to secure containerization technologies, such as Docker, Kubernetes, and Portainer, that are commonly used in MEC infrastructures. Combining VIBE with such technologies enables cellular operators to safely open their MEC radio-access networks (RAN) to authorized third parties, such as application developers and content providers.
VIBE displaces existing PKI technology in mobile networks by dramatically reducing complexity, cost and operational management (with a TCO of `50% of PKI). VIBE is the ideal platform to effectively secure session based MEC environments, and solve some of the key network-vulnerability problems existing on 4G/5G today.
VIBE’s 5G Benefits Summary
- Secure session-based communication without need of certificates
- Encrypt and decrypt communication between sender and recipient, as well for container snapshots and container management.
- Usable for key management and distribution
- Usable for initial authenticated registration, de-registration and paging
- Clearly ensure trusted identities and secure group formation
- Authenticate all cells of a network
- Interfaces at the application layer, thus allowing quick solution adoption