Skip to Content
Computing

5G has security flaws that could let hackers track your location

November 13, 2019
5G Samsung
5G Samsung
5G SamsungAP

The news: Security researchers have identified 11 design vulnerabilities with 5G protocols that could expose a user’s location, spoof emergency alerts, track phone activity (calls, texts, or web browsing), or silently disconnect the phone from the network altogether. 

How do they know? The flaws were identified using a custom tool the researchers built called 5GReasoner, which they used to identify five further vulnerabilities carried over from 3G and 4G. The findings were presented at a security conference in London yesterday. You can read the paper here.

Time is running out: Although they still face technical and regulatory barriers, 5G networks are starting to roll out in a few major cities worldwide, offering faster speeds and (we are told) greater security for users. Plugging these security holes will be an urgent task.

What’s next: The researchers have now sent their findings to the mobile network standards body, the GSMA, which has said it is working on fixes. The body has already listed the research in its “Hall of Fame.”

Deep Dive

Computing

Linux hack concept
Linux hack concept

The US military wants to understand the most important software on Earth

Open-source code runs on every computer on the planet—and keeps America’s critical infrastructure going. DARPA is worried about how well it can be trusted

Close up of worker inspecting chip in a clean room
Close up of worker inspecting chip in a clean room

Corruption is sending shock waves through China’s chipmaking industry

The arrests of several top semiconductor fund executives could force the government to rethink how it invests in the sector.

inflection point post-NSO concept
inflection point post-NSO concept

The hacking industry faces the end of an era

But even if NSO Group is no more, there are plenty of rivals who will rush in to take its place. And the same old problems haven’t gone away.

The Western Union Building, 60 Hudson Street, c. 1931.
The Western Union Building, 60 Hudson Street, c. 1931.

Energy-hungry data centers are quietly moving into cities

Companies are pushing more server farms into the hearts of population centers.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.