Security of open radio access networks

Dudu Mimran, Ron Bitton, Yehonatan Kfir, Eitan Klevansky, Oleg Brodt, Heiko Lehmann, Yuval Elovici, Asaf Shabtai

Computers & Security 122, 102890, 2022

The Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) is a promising radio access network (RAN) architecture aimed at reshaping the RAN industry toward an open, adaptive, and intelligent RAN. In this paper, we perform a comprehensive security analysis of O-RANs. Specifically, we review the architectural blueprint designed by the O-RAN Alliance, leader in the cellular ecosystem. As part of the security analysis, we provide a detailed overview of the O-RAN architecture; present an ontology for evaluating the security of a system that is currently at an early development stage; identify O-RAN’s high-risk areas; enumerate O-RAN’s threat actors; and model potential threats to O-RAN. The significance of this work is in providing an updated attack surface to cellular network operators. Based on the attack surface, cellular network operators can carefully deploy the appropriate countermeasures to improve O-RAN’s security.