A few months before its formal deployment in Canada, 5G is increasingly scrutinized by the cybersecurity community, which has just discovered 11 new vulnerabilities. These would allow hackers to track potential victims, send them false emergency alerts or disconnect them from the network.
That’s what we learn from a report by security research teams at Purdue Universities and Iowa, in the United States, released on Wednesday. The latter shows that the fifth generation of the mobile communications network is just as vulnerable to attack as its predecessor when it was to be safer.
Specialists have designed the 5GReasoner tool to find the flaws. It was used to create fake base stations, these antennas to which phones connect to access mobile networks. It is thanks to them that they have managed to hack phones, just as it is possible to do with 4G.
A phone connected to a fake network like this one unveils its network credentials, which can then track its location or conduct a denial of service attack, which prevents it from connecting.
The sending of false emergency alerts is also possible. This could sow artificial chaos , as it did in early 2018 when a false ballistic missile alert caused panic in Hawaii .
Researcher Sued Rafiul Hussain told the TechCrunch site that these flaws could be exploited by anyone with practical knowledge of how 4G and 5G work and how to use inexpensive equipment.
According to him, the problems with the network could be solved before its deployment, but some of them would require rather major changes.
The precise manner in which the flaws were exploited was not disclosed by the research teams, but was disclosed to the GSMA, the global association of mobile operators and builders.