LTE's Benefits Also Bring Great Threats, Says Security Firm

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor — May 08, 2012

AdaptiveMobile, a provider of mobile security solutions, has identified areas of security weaknesses on LTE networks due in part to the rapid proliferation of devices and traffic. The company has published a white paper on LTE security, analyzing the major weaknesses on the network, with applications and among legacy systems.

Ironically, it is the benefits associated with LTE –- the increased speeds and ability to handle high volumes of data -- that leave mobile operators, consumers and enterprises vulnerable to LTE threats that will be wider and deeper than those seen previously.

Because LTE is an evolution of existing network technologies and legacy systems, the threats that can affect it are varied and complex. Take for example the application level which requires security evaluation and standards across a wide arrange of communications, including email, MMS, IMS-based messaging, OTT messaging, VoIP calls, social network interactions, mobile-app generated traffic, M2M communications and additional protocols that are evolving.

There are also a host of economic, social and technological factors that could make LTE threat detection difficult in the short-term. The cost for mobile IP, on which LTE is based, means that the cost to send spam or generate malicious traffic is reduced. Similarly, higher data rates combined with the proliferation of IP devices will result in an increase in persons perpetuating threats and will make identifying infected devices far more difficult than on traditional networks. More capable devices with greater processing power will increase the ability to run botnets and viruses. LTE will transform existing technologies, such as messaging, which will allow for multiple users and easier file sharing. With these increased benefits comes greater difficulty in implementing spam and malware links. Securing LTE will require offline event processing to detect new threats, combined with real-time event handling, similar to what database and enterprise security has been using.

"As devices and networks become smarter, faster and more powerful, so must the way the mobile network views the threat landscape," said Cody Bowman, general manager for the Americas at AdaptiveMobile. "This new model for security will take into account user behavior as well as an active, real-time look at network traffic and possible threats. Only through this holistic approach will the LTE experience be secure, allowing consumers and enterprise customers a safe environment."

To download a copy of the white paper, visit: www.adaptivemobile.com

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