February 25, 2024

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Singapore Boosts 5G Chip Security

Dr Matheus E Garbelini, a recent graduate from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), has uncovered “high severity” security flaws within 5G chips, sounding the alarm for a potential global threat to mobile phones. Dr Garbelini, during his tenure as a PhD graduate student at SUTD, employed the Wireless Fuzzing technique to meticulously examine the firmware of 5G chips.

Collaborating with fellow PhD student Zewen Shang, Assistant Professor Sudipta Chattopadhyay, and researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute for Infocomm Research, the team unearthed critical findings that could have far-reaching consequences.

Image credit: sutd.edu.sg

The vulnerabilities identified by Dr Matheus and his team reveal a significant “Denial of Service” (DoS) attack vector. In simpler terms, a malicious actor, armed with a rogue standalone 5G base station (gNodeB), could unleash an attack resulting in a complete loss of 5G connectivity for the targeted mobile phone.

What’s even more concerning is that the impact persists even after the attack concludes, with recovery necessitating a manual reboot of the affected device, often requiring the removal and reinsertion of the SIM card.

The gravity of these findings cannot be overstated, given the widespread usage of 5G chips in popular smartphone models worldwide. The SUTD team was commended for their contribution to identifying and addressing these security flaws.

Dr Matheus, who is currently a research fellow at SUTD, underscores the critical nature of these discoveries, particularly with the increasing adoption of 5G smartphones. The severity of the identified vulnerabilities lies in the lack of known defences against potential attacks.

However, Dr Matheus advises users to maintain the security of their devices by keeping their Android OS and iOS updated with the latest software patches, as these updates often include essential security enhancements.

Addressing security flaws in 5G chips is not just about fixing immediate issues but involves a comprehensive approach. Awareness of these flaws allows for proactive risk mitigation, enabling users, developers, and organisations to take preemptive measures such as implementing security patches and updates to reduce potential risks associated with vulnerabilities in 5G chips.

Preventing exploitation is a critical advantage of understanding and addressing these security flaws. By minimising the likelihood of malicious actors successfully exploiting vulnerabilities, the integrity and functionality of 5G networks, which transmit vast amounts of data, are safeguarded.

Data protection is paramount in the context of 5G networks, where security flaws could potentially expose sensitive information. Therefore, it is crucial to develop and implement robust encryption and security protocols to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data.

Maintaining trust in 5G technology is fundamental for users and organisations relying on the security of these networks for various activities. Addressing security flaws, coupled with active measures to mitigate them, helps uphold trust in the technology and the entities providing it.

Compliance with industry standards and regulations is mandatory, especially in sectors handling sensitive data. Awareness of security flaws ensures organisations adhere to these standards and regulatory requirements, reducing legal and reputational risks.

Recognising security flaws fosters a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Encouraging companies to enhance their products by addressing vulnerabilities makes them more resilient to emerging threats, contributing to the overall improvement of security across the entire ecosystem.

Awareness and action regarding security flaws are vital components in ensuring the robustness, reliability, and trustworthiness of 5G chips and the networks they support. The collaborative efforts of researchers like Dr Matheus and his team play a crucial role in uncovering vulnerabilities, prompting necessary measures to secure the future of mobile communication.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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