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Comment: Editorial

Identities for LTE and 5G devices

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Common Criteria certified PKI platform
Common Criteria certified PKI platform
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Nexus' solution for protecting telecom 4G (long-term evolution, LTE) and 5G networks with PKI certificates, is a high-security and multitenancy solution with automation features and a solid track record. 

Telecom use case

A 4G (LTE) or 5G network is composed of the radio access network (RAN) that connects to mobile network operator’s operators (MNO’sMNOs) via the base stations. Mobile network operators meet many challenges in protecting the telecom infrastructure, and many more challenges will come in the future. Telecommunication companies that want to grow and adapt to the internet of things (IoT), a mature and flexible public key infrastructure (PKI) platform is needed.

Telcos must encrypt the communication on the backhaul if it goes through public networks, and issue certificates to the different network components, as well as the users and servers that are involved, for a solid end-to-end protection of the telecommunication. 

Nexus' solution

Nexus' LTE & 5G PKI solution is based on Smart ID Certificate Manager and has the following features: 

High security

Strong authentication and encryption are crucial to secure the communication between eNodeBs or gNodeBs and security gateways, as well as between eNodeBs or gNodeBs and their operations support systems (OSS). Encryption tunnels using certificate-based authentication, instead of passwords, ensure high security, scalability and automation.

Nexus’s mature and reliable PKI component framework provides the widest range of certificate issuing and management protocols on the market. This means that any standards-based network element, server, personal computer or smart card can get the certificates necessary to establish the highest trust across the mobile network from the base stations and deep into the core network.

Using the Nexus PKI platform enables mobile network operators to increase the level of protection and security in their networks. The robustness and readiness of the Nexus software improves the overall availability of the LTE or 5G infrastructure and becomes an excellent tool for providing good governance and efficient security management.

Protection against internal threats

Internal threats to the system also need to be considered. Nexus’ PKI platform has functionality to protect from internal threats that most other PKI platforms do not include:

  • Multi-person control can be enforced to security-sensitive operations, so that different roles must be involved in security critical operations.
  • Out-of-the-box strong authentication is enforced to access the security infrastructure.
  • All event logs are digitally signed and therefore protected against manipulation.

Vendor-independence

A PKI solution provided by the telecom equipment vendor could be relevant when the network is limited to single vendor base stations. However, as soon as base stations from various vendors are included in the network, an independent solution is needed. This scenario will become increasingly common.

Nexus' PKI platform is flexible about choice of vendors, and with an independent PKI platform, operators can increase and maintain security today and keep the security platform untouched when technology upgrades are needed.

Nexus' solution already supports multiple LTE devices and the list is continuously growing, to let you stay independent of certain telecom equipment vendors. 

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titleView the supported LTE devices

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Supported LTE and 5G devices in Certificate Manager
Supported LTE and 5G devices in Certificate Manager
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Automatic certificate enrollment

Automatic certificate enrollment, instead of doing the work manually, leads to lower costs, less administration and no risk of human error. 

Nexus’ PKI platform has an automated process for issuing certificates and allows full lifecycle management including device registration, certificate request authentication, certificate renewal, and revocation. 

For the auto-enrollment and lifecycle management of the machine certificates, the PKI platform uses the standard protocols Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP) and Certificate Management Protocol (CMPv2) to request and renew machine certificates from the certificates authorities (CA) of the corporate PKI. Several other suitable standards and protocols for Telcos are also supported, such as ACME, 3GPP and EST (Enrollment over Secure Transport, RFC 7030).

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titleView the supported certificate enrollment protocols

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Supported certificate enrollment protocols in Certificate Manager
Supported certificate enrollment protocols in Certificate Manager
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Multiple use cases and multitenancy

Apart from protecting the base stations, there are many other use cases for certificates. For solid end-to-end protection, users and back-end servers also need certificates. Nexus' PKI platform manages these certificates as well. Support for a wide range of certificate issuing and management protocols makes it possible to include any other PKI use case found in corporates, including out-of-the-box integration with internal IT systems such as servers, authentication clients and smart cards.

Multitenancy allows multiple CAs for different client organizations and use cases to run in a single service environment. Nexus’ PKI platform is truly multitenant. Each CA can be managed with separation of individual policies, issuing and maintenance processes, and separate groups of policy administrators in one platform.

Solid track record

Nexus' PKI solution is used in critical, large-scale, multi-CA deployments. The platform scales well in large device volume networks and helps the operator guarantee high availability by supporting automation, local high availability, load sharing using load balancers, and geo-redundancy support for appropriate disaster recovery plans.

An operator can manage certificates for multiple networks and countries in one central and well-managed service, instead of using multiple and less funded local initiatives. Several of the biggest mobile operators in Asia, Europe, and America trust Nexus' PKI platform. 

Read more about the following customer case: How Vodafone Turkey keeps its rapidly growing network secure with PKI.


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