Potential 5g Vulnerabilities


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For Public Release – Tactical Rabbit Inc.

  1. Executive Summary:

5G promises to provide faster network speeds than available with 4G and LTE networks. It also will provide increased redundancy and some improvements in security over existing network technologies. However with these improvements comes an increase in complexity and vulnerabilities that did not exist in the 4G and LTE environments.

Key Judgements:

  • The limited sources of 5G technology components increase the vulnerability of supply chains and increases the possibility of software being introduced at the manufacturer.
  • 5G’s frequency range is close enough to legacy systems that it may cause interference with air travel and certain satellites.
  • Due to the short range nature of the frequencies used in 5G, the ability to locate a connected device will greatly increase.
  • The complexity of implementing a 5G network increases the attack surface for malicious actors. As more organizations begin to incorporate IOT devices, the attack surface will grow even larger.


Security Concerns:

Early in the development of the 5G standard multiple cybersecurity researchers outlined the threats of using overseas manufacturers of 5G equipment. Specifically these reports cautioned that using the Chinese manufactured Huawei devices could open the door for potential espionage and loss of data to China. Subsequently the US and other countries enacted restrictions on purchasing devices from Huawei.

Cybersecurity researchers also argue that the increased speeds of 5G networks will likely result in an increase in distributed denial of service attacks, and potentially harmful disruption of sensors used in industrial applications.


The frequencies used in the 5G standard are near those used by weather and Earth observation satellites. The bleed over from large scale 5G adoption may cause interference with these satellites and result in degraded capabilities and weather forecasting. While this interference can be mitigated through low-noise block downconverters and waveguide filters the possibility still exists for satellite interference.

  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/5g-canada-huawei-technology-future-1.5113309
  2. https://www.a10networks.com/blog/urgency-of-network-security-in-the-shared-lte-5g-era/
  3. https://gcn.com/articles/2020/09/29/weather-satellites-vs-5g.aspx

The frequencies used by 5G are also known to interfere with Aircraft operations.

Specifically the radio altimeters used in some aircraft. Older radio altimeters are vulnerable to 5G interference and may cause aircraft to have difficulty determining their altitude during takeoff and landing.


The short range nature of 5G frequencies requires new base stations to be installed at closer intervals than previous cell networks. This increases the granularity in mobile device geolocation. Previous Cellular network triangulation could locate a device in a ¾ mile radius6. With 5G, triangulation will likely be able to locate a device within a few hundred meters or less7. While this is a concern for individual privacy, the ability to triangulate targeted mobile devices down to a few hundred meters can greatly improve law enforcement and intelligence agencies capabilities.

Supply Chain vulnerabilities:

The 5G supply chain is vulnerable to malicious or inadvertent introduction of malicious code, counterfeit, and poor design. This risk is not mitigated by using trusted hardware locally as data will likely be sent overseas and will be vulnerable to interception and theft8. The short range nature of 5G will also require the introduction of more infrastructure. This increase will result in a larger attack surface and more points of entry for malicious actors. Finally, those who are locked into a single technology provider may face potential disruption if replacement equipment is not available. Worse those locked into a single source may be forced to use substandard or untrusted equipment increasing the probability of data loss and intellectual property theft.

IoT devices:

5G will allow for an increase in use of “Internet of Things” (IOT) devices. While this is brings substantial advantages, it also dramatically increases the available attack surface for malicious actors. Hackers are already exploiting this vulnerability and have been known to use IOT devices as a launch point to penetrate networks and eventually compromise computers. As organizations increase their use of IOT devices this type of attack is likely to continue.

Software defined networks:

 The previous versions of cellular networks relied on hardware to manage network traffic. 5G is based on the idea of software defined networks instead10. This change means that not only do organizations have to worry about more traditional vulnerabilities, but with 5G, organizations must also manage potential vulnerabilities introduced by the network its self. To mitigate this organizations will have to incorporate risk management strategies and security policies while developing their network architecture to adapt to the 5G environment.

  1. https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210216-5g-phones-may-interfere-with-aircraft-french-regulator
  2. https://www.5gtechnologyworld.com/5g-altimeter-interference-aviation-versus-telecoms/
  3. https://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/911/Apps%20Wrkshp%202015/911_Help_SMS_WhitePaper0515.pdf
  4. https://www.fastcompany.com/90314058/5g-means-youll-have-to-say-goodbye-to-your-location-privacy, https://www.rfwireless-world.com/Terminology/5G-Speed-Vs-5G-Range.html
  5. https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pdm19028_5g_risk_characterizationc_v14_05july2019_1.pdf
  6. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/08/microsoft-catches-russian-state-hackers-using-iot-devices- to-breach-networks/
  7. https://www.brookings.edu/research/why-5g-requires-new-approaches-to-cybersecurity/

Intelligence Assessment:

Although this report focused on potential vulnerabilities and risks involved with establishing a 5G architecture, 5G remains an overall improvement on current network technology. Tactical Rabbit assesses that initial roll out of 5G networks will likely experience disruptions as previously undiscovered vulnerabilities are found. However, as long as organizations incorporate a proactive security mindset while in the design phase, most organizations will be able to mitigate most issues quickly. Tactical Rabbit strongly cautions organizations to use only trusted and certified technology to avoid potentially inadvertently introducing counterfeit and malicious code into their systems from the onset.

  1. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consulting/articles/take-five-on-5g-cybersecurity.html