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Open RAN security is important because O-RAN has so much to offer.

Analysts generally are in agreement that Open RAN is an exciting concept, one that opens up several doors to innovation, improved network performance, and a more diverse and competitive cyber ecosystem.

In an Open RAN, network software is less interdependent on hardware, reducing the risk associated with upgrades or isolated security breaches.

Additionally, the enhanced modularity available with open interfaces makes it easier for operators to move toward a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) operating model.

What this does is enable the seamless and effective patch management needed to fix any security vulnerability found in open RAN. In an open RAN, discrete software updates can be more transparent and less impactful on the overall network than software updates in a traditional network.

However, the European Union published a report on Open RAN security that listed potential concerns, including 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.

For example, the O-RAN Alliance has specified open interfaces, thereby lowering security risk through standardization.

And, according to experts in this area, operators that avoid vendor lock-in by choosing open RAN will also 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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