Semiconductor Equipment

5G vulnerabilities call for automated platform, continuous testing

16 June 2022

As organizations develop and deploy 5G services, a critical step in ensuring successful 5G core deployment is the validation of performance, capacity and compliance capabilities — a process that, traditionally, takes many months of manual test case development based on evolving 3GPP standards. Not surprisingly, this can be both time-consuming and costly.

About a year ago, testing solutions provider Spirent Communications offered an answer when it introduced what it said was an industry first: a subscription-based, automated 5G core test platform. Designed to accelerate time-to-market and reduce the costs associated with 5G core validation, the company’s Landslide 5G Core Automation Platform provides access to a managed library comprised of hundreds of pre-built test cases covering testing for nodal, adjacency and end-to-end assessment.

While 5G opens the door to new, mission-critical use cases, the nature of its open cloud-based architecture also introduces the potential for new security vulnerabilities. Source: TheDigitalWay/CC0 via PixabayWhile 5G opens the door to new, mission-critical use cases, the nature of its open cloud-based architecture also introduces the potential for new security vulnerabilities. Source: TheDigitalWay/CC0 via PixabayNow, the company has expanded upon that offering with a new security automation package for the platform with what it calls a unique pre-built security test library. This includes expert-designed test cases for 3GPP Security Assurance Specification (SCAS) standards and security attack emulation.

It makes sense: While 5G opens the door to new, mission-critical use cases, the nature of its open cloud-based architecture also introduces the potential for new security vulnerabilities. The security package combines Spirent’s test methodology, automation and 5G and security expertise into a single pre-built solution that service providers can plug directly into their automation pipelines.

“Unlike any of its predecessors, 5G represents a fundamental disaggregation of the network, opening areas of vulnerabilities susceptible to exploits or malicious activity,” explained Doug Roberts, general manager of Spirent’s Lifecycle Service Assurance business. Roberts added the critical importance to 5G operators of integrating security-based testing into a continuous test model.

The addition of the new library brings the package count for the Landslide platform to three:

  • Compliance: Verifies network function compliance to 3GPP standards, including call flows, messages, presence of information elements (IEs) within messages and their values
  • Capacity and performance: Starts at predetermined levels of load and automatically scales up to test the capacity and performance of networks and network functions
  • Security: Validates network function security, focusing on the control plane including network slices, while ensuring multi-vendor components are assessed both separately and together


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