GPRS security

GPRS security

The GPRS network has some built-in security in the form of GPRS authentication. However this is minimal, and is not sufficient for carrier network security needs. A GTP firewall, such as FortiOS Carrier, is required to secure the Gi, Gn, and Gp interfaces.

 

GPRS authentication

GPRS authentication is handled by the SGSN to prevent unauthorized GPRS calls from reaching the GSM network beyond the SGSN (the base station system, and mobile station). Authentication is accomplished using some of the customer’s information with a random number and uses two algorithms to create ciphers that then allow authentication for that customer.

User identity confidentiality ensures that customer information stays between the mobile station and the SGSN — no identifying information goes past the SGSN. Past that point other numbers are used to identify the customer and their connection on the network.

Periodically the SGSN may request identity information from the mobile station to compare to what is on record, using the IMEI number.

Call confidentiality is achieved through the use of a cipher, similar to the GPRS authentication described earlier. The cipher is applied between the mobile station and the SGSN. Essentially a cipher mask is XORd with each outgoing frame, and the receiving side XORs with its own cipher to result in the original frame and data.

 

Parts of a GTPv1 network

A sample GTP network consists of the end handset sender, the sender’s mobile station, the carrier’s network including the SGSN and GGSN, the receiver’s mobile station, and the receiver handset.

When a handset moves from one mobile station and SGSN to another, the handset’s connection to the Internet is preserved because the tunnel the handset has to the Internet using GTP tracks the user’s location and information. For example, the handset could move from one cell to another, or between countries.

 

The parts of a GPRS network can be separated into the following groups according to the roles of the devices:

  • Radio access to the GPRS network is accomplished by mobile phones and mobile stations (MS).
  • Transport the GPRS packets across the GPRS network is accomplished by SGSNs and GGSNs, both local and remote, by delivering packets to the external services.
  • Billing and records are handled by CDF, CFR, HLR, and VLR devices.

GPRS networks also rely on access points and PDP contexts as central parts of the communication structure. These are not actual devices, but they are still critical .

These devices, their roles, neighboring devices, the interfaces and protocols they use are outlined in the following table.

 

Carrier network showing the interfaces used (GTPv1)

 

Devices on a GTPv1 network

 

Device role Neighboring Devices Interfaces used Protocols used
 

Mobile Users

 

Mobile Stations (MS)

 

Radio Access Tech- nology (RAT)

 
 

Mobile Stations

(MS)

 

Mobile Users, SGSN

 

Gb

 

IP, Frame Relay

 

SGSN (local)

 

MS, SGSN (local or remote), GGSN (local and remote), CDR, CFR, HLR, VLR

 

Ga, Gb, Gn, Gp, Gz

 

IP, Frame Relay, GTP, GTP’

 

SGSN (remote)

 

SGSN (local)

 

Gn

 

GTP

 

GGSN (local)

 

SGSN (local or remote), GGSN (local and remote), CDR, CFR, HLR, VLR

 

Ga, Gi, Gn, Gp, Gz

 

IP, GTP, GTP’

 

 

GGSN (remote)

 

SGSN (local), WAP gateway, Internet, other external ser- vices

 

 

Gi, Gp

 

 

IP, GTPv1

 

CDR, CFR

 

SGSN (local), GGSN (local)

 

Ga, Gz

 

GTP’

 

HLR, VLR

 

SGSN (local), GGSN (local)

 

Ga, Gz

 

GTP’


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