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Saturday, February 26, 2011

GPRS Backbone Network Security Weakness and Threats

GPRS is a service that provides packet radio access for GSM users and as such;
 Enables the provision of a variety of packet-oriented multimedia application and services to mobile users
 Realizes the concept of the mobile Internet
 Constitutes a migration step towards 3G
 The GPRS network consists of an overlay network onto the GSM network that
(i) Reuses the GSM technology
(ii) Incorporates the IP technology => provoke a security threat
(iii) It is connected to the public Internet => provoke a security threat

GPRS backbone network provides Signaling exchange that involves at least one of the MSC, VLR, EIR, HLR, AuCis based on Signaling System 7 (SS7). It also provides Signaling exchange and data transfer between SGSNs, and an SGSN and a GGSN is based on GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP). Data transfer over Gi Interface is based on Public Internet.
Mobile operators are responsible for the protection of the GPRS backbone and inter-network communications. In this article I have put together some security weaknesses and threats that can affect the GPRS Backbone network – summarized in a pictorial format as illustrated below.

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