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Open RAN (Radio Access Network) has lots to offer, however, O-RAN also has security concerns.

A recent report on Open RAN security lists problem areas such as a larger attack surface, increased risk of misconfiguration, risk of impact on other network functions due to resource sharing, and immature specifications that are not secure by design.

The report also reported that Open RAN could lead to new critical dependencies in cloud components, according to the report.

Consequently, the industry, the vendor community, and government agencies are paying attention to Open RAN risks. 

As a result of O-RAN security concerns, Open RAN has been evolving to adopt modern security best practices, such as the O-RAN Alliance specifying open interfaces, thereby lowering security risk through standardization.

Still, open RAN standards are freely accessible to all third-party software developers, who can develop new types of services and innovate on the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) by building xApps and rApps. This enables telcos to make their networks a much more relevant resource for both enterprise and consumer applications.

On the other side of the Open RAN security issue, many feel there are security benefits to Open RAN. For example, in an open RAN, network software is less interdependent on hardware, reducing the risk associated with upgrades or isolated security breaches.

In addition, the enhanced modularity available with open interfaces makes it easier for operators to move toward a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) operating model. This enables the seamless and effective patch management needed to fix any security vulnerability found in open RAN.

In general, experts in this area believe that operators that avoid vendor lock-in by choosing open RAN will be better-positioned to leverage new security capabilities as they are developed.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Open Ran Security Fundamentals, a 2-day course that provides a solid introduction to Radio Access Network (RAN), Open RAN 101, O-RAN architecture, virtualization, O-RAN security features, O-RAN vulnerabilities and operation and deployment security options.

Additionally, open RAN Security Fundamentals covers the security of disaggregated and open RAN architectures: all aspects of interoperability of open hardware, software, and interfaces for cellular wireless networks.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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