Machine Learning Assisted Security Analysis of 5G-Network-Connected Systems

Tanujay Saha, Najwa Aaraj, Niraj K. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The core network architecture of telecommunication systems has undergone a paradigm shift in the fifth-generation (5G) networks. 5G networks have transitioned to software-defined infrastructures, thereby reducing their dependence on hardware-based network functions. New technologies, like network function virtualization and software-defined networking, have been incorporated in the 5G core network (5GCN) architecture to enable this transition. This transition has significantly improved network efficiency, performance, and robustness. However, this has also made the core network more vulnerable, as software systems are generally easier to compromise than hardware systems. This article presents a comprehensive security analysis framework for the 5GCN. The novelty of this approach lies in the creation and analysis of attack graphs of the software-defined and virtualized 5GCN through machine learning. This analysis points to 119 novel possible exploits in the 5GCN. We demonstrate that these potential exploits of 5GCN vulnerabilities generate five novel attacks on the 5G Authentication and Key Agreement protocol. We combine the attacks at the network, protocol, and application layers to generate complex attack vectors. In a case study, we use these attack vectors to find four novel security loopholes in WhatsApp running on a 5G network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2006-2024
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


  • 5G network
  • 5G security
  • Attack graphs
  • machine learning
  • mobile network security
  • network function virtualization
  • software-defined networks


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