5G, how to build it securely

By Muhammad Abid, Director of Marketing and Product Management Fortinet and Ronen Shpirer, Director CSP Solutions Marketing Fortinet

Powered by the convergence of 5G and industry 4.0, the smart enterprise of the future is now here. The critical performance boost of 5G enables critical smart systems to share and respond to information faster than ever, permitting industrial enterprises to digitise and automate their infrastructures with confidence. 

5G offers a unique and valuable set of capabilities that, unlike any previous or current mobile technology, enable and expand the implementation of transformative technologies for organisations, including industrial enterprises. The value of 5G encompasses enhanced bandwidth, ultra-high reliability, low latency, high positioning precision, and native support for machine communications that organisations across a wide range of verticals, including manufacturing, logistics, and utility companies, are looking to harness and accelerate their digital innovation efforts. 

However, new technologies—especially those that add new edges to expand or enhance the potential attack surface—always bring new risks. As a critical part of organisation’s businesses, 5G requires an end-to-end security infrastructure to ensure and maintain the secure deployment and utilisation of 5G across critical use cases such as augmented realty, autonomous-guided vehicles (AGVs), and near real-time digital twins, yielding innovative and increasingly efficient operations. Whatever version of 5G infrastructure and services is used, whether public or private, and whatever the implemented use case, however, security must be in place to help protect the attack surface across augmented 5G environments.

Understanding how an enterprise will use 5G, and how 5G mobile providers can best serve their needs, are essential for determining the security blueprint and related issues that must be addressed. However, it is also critical that organisations start this conversation on Day One of any transformation efforts by framing their security needs generally. Some of those main considerations are briefly discussed here.

Private 5G networks will be the go-to consumption choice for 5G enterprise 

Research indicates that enterprises that consider deploying 5G will do so via nonpublic 5G networks (i.e., private 5G networks). This is supported by a near-continuous stream of industrial enterprises that have been announcing private 5G deployments. These deployments will be implemented by either mobile operators, mobile vendors, or systems integrators. 

This is not a trivial undertaking. Deploying, maintaining, and managing a private 5G network requires significant financial and human resources. Customisation, QoS, SLA control, and system integrity (ensuring that production assets are protection in compliance with regulations) are the top factors driving these strategic and long-term investments.

The use case is king

Given the fanfare over the past few years, it would be easy to assume that the arrival of 5G is the culmination of everyone’s efforts. However, 5G is not the enterprise end game. 5G is simply a critical enabler for the real objective, which is the deployment and enablement of a great number of use cases that bring value and innovation to the enterprise. These may include such things as closed loop process automation, real time logistic management, augmented reality, predictive maintenance, and more. Delivery of such use cases requires the creation, deployment, and management of an interconnected 5G industrial ecosystem, including all related OT/IIoT devices and vendors, industrial applications and tools—both on site and on public/partner clouds, and the 5G network itself. 

It is the use case that needs to be secured, and meeting its unique issues and challenges should be the focus of any security infrastructure that is put in place. This is not a one-size-fits-all challenge, and we must not design or implement security in silos in such a complex ecosystem. Instead, we need to build and deliver end-to-end visibility, automation, and enforcement throughout the ecosystem’s attack surface as one coherent, integrated, adaptable, and self-healing security platform. 

Native 5G security is not enough 

We have all heard that 5G is the most secure commercial mobile generation and wireless technology ever developed, enhancing authentication, encryption, and integrity. But an internal 5G security mechanism is only part of the story. The 5G ecosystem that interlocks enterprises, providers, and the partners serving their unique business interests creates a distributed attack surface that 5G on its own is unable to defend. The rise of the sophisticated attacks—ranging from Advanced Swarm-Attacks that will leverage 5G-enabled devices to overwhelm defenses, to increasingly sophisticated IoT/IIoT and API-based attacks that can leverage AI to speed delivery and outwit traditional and isolated security systems—warrants a defense-in-depth approach to security. One that builds on the foundation of native 5G security with additional security layers to protect the entire 5G ecosystem end-to-end to deliver business-critical enterprise use cases. 

Fortinet security-fabric—delivering end-to-end security for 5G ecosystems

Fortinet’s diverse portfolio and in-depth security experience across enterprises (IT), mobile network operators, operational technologies (OT), and IIoT/IoT has resulted in a uniform, practical, and flexible platform framework that is ideal for implementing security for 5G ecosystem 

The Fortinet Security Fabric is a flexible, adaptable, broad, intelligent and automated security platform. Its solutions are integrated into a unified, cohesive, and end to end security platform offering actionable threat intelligence and AI-based security automation tools. And because it can be deployed anywhere, in any form factor, it provides the security visibility, automation, and control required to seamlessly span the public and private 5G networks and services employed throughout the 5G industrial ecosystem.

Unlike any other solution, the Fortinet Security Fabric enables the building and deploying of a comprehensive shared security responsibility model that supports both 5G providers and their enterprise customers over the entire ecosystem and across all use cases. It provides the security foundations upon which a trusted 5G ecosystem can be implemented and put to work so 5G-enabled innovation can be securely delivered to enterprises across all verticals.

Mobile Network Operators can also leverage the Fortinet Security Fabric to build differentiated, revenue generating value-added security services for their enterprise customers that are adopting private and public 5G networks.

Achieve Flexibility with 5G Connectivity for Higher Operational Performance

5G’s enhanced mobile broadband and high reliability makes it a valid WAN connectivity technology today and in the future. When coupled with Fortinet solutions, organisations can cost-effectively harness 5G as part of their WAN infrastructure with the FortiExtender-511F Wireless WAN solution without compromising on performance. FortiExtender-511F also enables thin edges with 5G connectivity to leverage FortiSASE for consistent and reliable cloud-delivered security and inspection, providing ultra-fast and safe wireless WAN connectivity across all enterprises and industries.

FortiGate 7121F

Delivering long-term value on a Fortinet security investment

As an integral part of the Fortinet Security Fabric, the new FortiGate 7121F appliance and its industry-leading FortiGate portfolio creates value for both industrial enterprises and mobile network providers by delivering consistent security across the 5G network and ecosystem. The FortiGate 7121F, powered by Fortinet’s industry-first SPUs, offers the highest performance numbers in the industry – including the highest Security Compute Rating compared to competing next-generation firewalls. (The Security Compute Rating is a benchmark [performance multiplier] that compares FortiGate Network Firewall performance versus the industry average of competing products across various categories that fall within the same price band.) 

The FortiGate 7121F enhances the market-leading FortiGate portfolio with the industry’s most scalable, highest performing, modular, chassis-based platform. This FortiGate solution reduces costs through consolidation and acceleration, while at the same time providing the following critical benefits: 

Manage internal risks by properly segmenting networks to prevent the lateral spread of threats. FortiGate 7121F intelligently adapts to dynamically segment users, devices, and applications—regardless of their location, whether on-premises or in multiple clouds—while providing automated threat detection and enforcement. 

Manage external risks with AI/ML-powered FortiGuard Services to stop communication with malicious websites. It achieves this using industry-leading web filtering and anti-virus capabilities to protect systems from a broad variety of content-level threats. Virus Bulletin, an industry-recognised third-party testing lab, recognised Fortinet recognised with their highest award—an Advanced+ rating—for file detection and real-world protection  

Remove blind spots by implementing a security-driven networking approach to managing all security risks everywhere, enhanced with the comprehensive visibility enabled by SSL decryption, including TLS 1.3. Organisations are able to quickly identify sophisticated threats hiding in encrypted channels with the industry’s highest security compute rating that is 19 times faster than the industry average. 

Build fast and secure data center interconnects with FortiGate 7121F’s 400G interface modules. FortiGate 7121F is the only NGFW to offer the capability to do things like accelerate cutting-edge research by securely transferring large data sets that leverage elephant flows across data lakes and sites.

A flexible consumption model that allow organisations to start with a base configuration that meets budgetary needs combined with the capability to add more capacity in line with business growth.

Below is a comparison of the FortiGate 7121F against top firewalls on the market.

Specification​FortiGate 7121F​Industry ​ Average​Security Compute Rating​Palo Alto Networks PA-7080​Checkpoint SG-64000​Cisco Firepower 9300​​Juniper SRX5800​
Firewall1.89 Tbps682Gbps3xN/A880Gbps168Gbps1Tbps
IPsec VPN630 Gbps241Gbps2.6x328Gbps323Gbps81Gbps230Gbps
Threat Protection 520 Gbps305Gbps2x430Gbps180GbpsN/AN/A
SSL Inspection 540 Gbps28Gbps19xN/AN/A28GbpsN/A
Concurrent Sessions1000M231M4x416M110.4M60M338M
Connections Per Second9M4.58M2x6M4.92M1.1M6.3M

Note 1: FGT-7121F with ten cards and no support​

Note 2: Results based on ‘optimum combination” of DPC and NPC cards , no services and support​

Note 3: Estimated with an a la carte configuration using 3xSM 56 cards 

Note 4: Estimated with fully loaded SRX5800 (7xSPC and 3x IOC4- SRX5K-IOC4-MRAT, 1x SRX5K-MPC3-100G10G; 1x RX5K-IOC4-10G) Securely Deploy the Fortinet Security Fabric and Realise Benefits of 5G Adoption

The Fortinet Security Fabric consolidates and accelerates networking and security through a security-driven networking approach to deliver full visibility and the highest scalability combined with advanced security to protect business-critical applications across distributed and hybrid 5G ecosystems. The Fortinet Security Fabric is powered by AI/ML integrated FortiGuard services, and seamlessly integrated advanced Web Application Firewall, sandboxing, and other services to protect the entire attack surface. The intuitive single pane of glass management, offered by Fabric Management Center, streamlines network and security operations by extending beyond the Security Fabric portfolio to include over 400+ecosystem partner integrations simplifying workflows and accelerating 5G adoption.

Fortinet is one of the world’s top cybersecurity brands, delivering broad, integrated, and automated protection via the Fortinet Security Fabric to enable organisations to securely accelerate their digital journey.  

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