Tech Tips #9: What are the security advantages of private networks?
6 September 2023

Tech Tips #9: What are the security advantages of private networks?

6 September 2023

Private networks are attracting considerable attention and investment – but what is a private network and what security advantages can they offer? For our purposes, a private network is a cellular network that is self-contained and isolated from public network infrastructure. They are sometimes also known as “non-public networks” or NPNs.

The operator has full control over access to the network, so can easily decide who and what can be admitted. Traffic to and from the network can also be managed at the discretion of the operator. Finally, such networks can use publicly available spectrum, or national regulators can reserve dedicated spectrum for allocation to a specific location or site. So, with that in mind, what security advantages do Private Networks offer?

Technology independence

Public mobile networks are subject to constant change and evolution. New software releases for core components, new devices and new infrastructure can all be introduced on a regular basis – particularly as operators adopt new CI/CD processes. Such changes are made unilaterally, with no consultation to users. While this can bring benefits, it can also introduce instability and create new security vulnerabilities.

Because they are isolated, the operator of the private network can control all of these parameters and make changes to suit its needs, at the pace and schedule they require. This helps create an environment more conducive to protecting mission critical applications. The logical and physical separation from other networks also prevents local and remote access, providing a more secure space for the intended users and applications.

Flexibility and self-sufficiency

Running your own private network means that you are not dependent on a public network operator for any changes you may require. You can implement your own policies and procedures that are aligned with your existing security measures and practices – which means you don’t need to compromise standards or implement workarounds to overcome limitations that you may encounter in public networks.

You can also significantly reduce the risks associated with third-party access, because you control what can connect to your network. As a result, your network is protected against risks that may threaten public networks, which may emerge from time to time, or specific targeted attacks.

Network access control

The ability to control who or what can connect to your network should also go hand-in-hand with standardised mobile authentication techniques. Private networks must use procedures that are fully aligned with public standards, so that operators can use them to their full advantage. They should not use proprietary methods that may mean authorised devices cannot connect when permitted to do so.

By using standard procedures, the operator retains full control over network access, with the result that only the devices and users they approve can gain admittance. This also enhances security and confidentiality, as access is restricted and policed by the operator.

Additional advantages of private networks

Unlike public networks, the specific performance characteristics of a private network can be tuned to the needs of the operator. This allows them to meet individual use cases and requirements that cannot be delivered across public networks and infrastructure.

In addition to optimised and different services, slicing can also be enabled. This allows the private network to be divided into logical segments, each of which can support specific services, user groups and applications. Unauthorised access to services in slices and between slices can be prevented, ensuring security, and promoting reliability for the network as a whole.

Mission critical services, on land or at sea

The additional security that private networks offer make them very attractive to organisations across a range of sectors. They can be tuned to support both mission critical services, as well as other optimised applications. And, they can do both in parallel, thanks to the inclusion of slicing technologies.

However, they are also attractive for another reason: you can build them literally anywhere. They can be situated on land, using localised spectrum, and they can also be built offshore – on permanent infrastructure, or on movable platforms, such as shipping. As such, they offer exceptional versatility to support your mission critical services – where a conventional operator cannot deliver or meet the levels of security you need to protect valuable assets.

The Telecom26 network

Telecom26 delivers specialised private networks for the maritime sector. Bundled with our service offer, as our “Cellular at Sea” solution includes all the components to provide high-performance, self-contained networks for cargo and passenger vessels, as well as offshore infrastructure – tuned to your individual needs.

Our secure, globally distributed network, with our own core for processing control and data plane traffic is backed by a rich suite of integrated and optional security measures. We go above and beyond standard approaches, with a host of additional options for protecting critical data. Talk to our team to find out how we are helping enterprises, NGOs and other organisations solve global connectivity challenges - securely.

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