Security in 3g Networks

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Computer Communications 27 (2004) 638–650

Security in third Generation Mobile Networks

Christos Xenakis*, Lazaros Merakos

Communication Networks Laboratory, Department of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens, 15784 Athens, Greece Received 23 April 2003; revised 18 November 2003; accepted 2 December 2003

Abstract In the last few years, we have witnessed an explosion in demand for security measures motivated by the proliferation of mobile/wireless networks, the fixed-mobile network convergence, and the emergence of new services, such as e-commerce. 3G-systems play a key role in this network evolution, and, thus, all stakeholders are interested in the security level supported in the new emerging mobile environment. This paper elaborates on the security framework in 3G mobile networks. The security requirements imposed by the different types of traffic, and by the different players involved (mobile users, serving network and service providers) are investigated. The security architecture, which comprises all the security mechanisms that are projected for the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) network, is analyzed. The employment of traditional security technologies, originally designed for fixed networking, such as firewalls, and static Virtual Private Network (VPN), in order to safeguard the UMTS core network from external attacks, as well as to protect user data when conveyed over the network are examined. Critical points in the 3G-security architecture that may cause network and service vulnerability are identified and discussed. Furthermore, proposals for the enhancement of the 3G-security architecture, and the provision of advanced security services to end-user data traffic within and outside the UMTS core network are discussed. The proposed enhancements can be easily integrated in the existing network infrastructure, and operate transparently to the UMTS network functionality. q 2004 Elsevier B.V....