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5G Network
Slicing Security:
Understanding
the Benefits

Author: Gary Hilson

5G network slicing offers businesses a range of beneficial uses and applications—not the least of which is better overall network security. By isolating network traffic and resources, 5G network slicing security can better safeguard data and protect mission-critical systems.

With network slicing, organizations can safely and cost-effectively adopt rapidly maturing network technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile point of sale (POS), and warehouse automation because it's now possible to quickly identify shared vulnerabilities and isolate specific systems and data sets for optimal preparedness and visibility.

What is 5G network slicing?

Network slicing lets you take a shared physical network and portion it out into logical segments. Each segment is provisioned for a different set of users, devices, and applications, and the logical separations mean the traffic from one slice does not interfere with that of another.

The purpose of a slice can vary widely—5G network slicing enables use cases that aren't possible with Wi-Fi because it is shared with others on the spectrum, and it's not possible to prioritize network access to certain functions and devices. An ambitious example would be to connect autonomous vehicles, such as a fleet of delivery trucks. On a smaller scale, it might be drones within a large warehouse for item collection and loading onto said delivery trucks.

In a retail environment, different slices would serve different purposes—one to support mobile POS for staff and another to support augmented reality applications that allow for immersive "try before you buy" shopping experiences, for example.

A single retail organization might employ all of these slicing scenarios to enhance the customer experience in-store and behind the scenes to track and keep inventory moving. All these slices would be isolated from each other in terms of network traffic and resources, thereby contributing to a much-improved security posture.

5G network slicing security configurations

All the above use cases take advantage of the inherent flexibility of 5G network slicing and the enhanced security that comes with it.

Because each slice is its own self-contained, virtualized environment, 5G network slicing security is more resilient to threats. If any one slice is compromised, it doesn't affect the others around it or the network as a whole. Segmentation of user traffic and access, as well as specific servers, helps to protect systems from cyber security threats such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. For example, an exploited IoT edge device might lead to a breach, but that breach need not spread to mission-critical servers in a data center because the breach is contained in the slice.

Another useful characteristic of 5G network slicing security is customization. Each slice can have its own security functionality, including access policies, firewall configurations and packet inspection, as well as its own authentication schemes that reflect their role in mission-critical operations and uptime.

For added efficiencies, you could also replicate your 5G network slicing security configurations. If you're adding more IoT devices in a different geographic area that mirrors a use case scenario elsewhere, you could apply the same security policies. In addition, by grouping devices that behave similarly during normal operations on the same slice, sudden changes in network traffic or their behavior can act as a security alert and trigger an appropriate response to prevent or contain a breach.

In taking advantage of the security benefits of network slicing, look for a network provider that can help to evaluate how best to slice the network so that your organization's network administrators will then have some best practices and templates that are easily replicated going forward.

All these configurations are dynamic, which makes 5G network slicing security flexible and responsive to a fast-moving business that can leverage a 5G-enabled network infrastructure optimized for performance, scalability and security—one slice at a time.

Learn more about the power of Verizon's 5G solutions for business here.