Cisco Scales Mobile Security for 5G

As the era for 5G mobile networks nears, there will be increased security demands that will require new technologies to defend users and carriers. Cisco is aiming to help meet the challenge with its new Security Architecture for Mobile Service Providers.

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5G was the hottest topic at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona, Spain, as both vendors and carriers race to deliver the next generation of cellular wireless technology. Cisco is aiming to play a key role in multiple aspects of the 5G market, including security, which is why the company announced its new Security Architecture for Mobile Service Providers at MWC.

"New services and architectures in 5G will lead to an increase in attack surface and associated risk to the mobile operator," Gee Rittenhouse, Senior Vice-President Engineering in the Security Business Group at Cisco, told eWEEK. "Mitigating this risk requires a comprehensive approach to security that can be only be delivered by a broad and deep security portfolio."

While Cisco has had multiple security technologies in market to help mobile operators, Rittenhouse commented that there is a need for a new approach that helps protect mobile traffic and subscriber data across physical and virtualized mobile infrastructures.

"An architectural approach to security is required to deliver comprehensive visibility and protection everywhere – across the network, device, and cloud," he said. "One of the new capabilities is the next-generation Security Gateway for mobile operators, which enables them to protect the mobile core. "

Rittenhouse added that the mobile capabilities are all new software capabilities that will be available on Cisco's existing carrier-class platforms including the ASR 900; Firepower 9300 and 4100 Series; and the ASAv virtual appliance. Additionally, from a scaleability perspective, clustering technology on Cisco Firepower platforms, allows mobile operators to scale up to five Cisco Firepower 9300 chassis or up to 16 Cisco Firepower 4100 Series chassis, for optimized security gateway performance as mobile network demands grow.

From a services perspective, Cisco is announcing the Cisco Umbrella for Service Providers offering which is similar in functionality to the enterprise Umbrella service that Cisco announced on Feb. 9. With Umbrella, Cisco is providing a Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) technology that is able to filter and protect traffic from malware and limit online security risks. Rittenhouse explained that with Cisco Umbrella for Service Providers, there is an optimized console that enables providers to easily add security services.

"We also have included the ability to access Umbrella cloud across the Cisco Service Provider product portfolio," Rittenhouse said.

While network based security is a core part of Cisco's business, for mobile there is also a device security component as well. At MWC, Cisco announced device security capabilities that will enhance Samsung devices with visibility and data intelligence capabilities.

"Cisco currently provides deep visibility and control on desktops and laptops through our robust security offerings," Rittenhouse said. "We are offering new, enhanced visibility to our existing Cisco AnyConnect integration with Samsung Knox – so, any Samsung device using the Knox security platform."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.