Safeguard Telecom's last mile – Customer Premises Equipment – with PKI

Customer Premises Equipment (CPEs), such as broadband routers and modems, ensure seamless communication. Issued by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and embedded in every home, they serve as a gateway to the digital world.

As a result, CPEs also present a potential vulnerability in the face of malicious third-party attacks. Compromised CPEs can lead to various exploits, such as DNS hijacking and man-in-the-middle attacks. The resulting unauthorized access to local user networks can lead to personal data leakage and privacy breaches.

Recognizing the potential consequences of unprotected CPEs, telecom stakeholders must prioritize securing these devices to avert breaches and safeguard subscribers' homes and telecom networks from potential threats. CPE Manufacturers must ensure their devices can be securely identified and validated before they are added to a trusted network. MNOs and ISPs, on the other hand, must take precautions that once onboarded, the CPE can be continuously validated within the network while maintaining secure communication.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) offers a proven means to fortify these connected devices. With decades of industry standardization, PKI provides a robust security framework that aligns seamlessly with the complex requirements of CPE protection and ensures the integrity and confidentiality of data exchanged between the CPE and the network.

Enable trust during CPE production

A Factory Certificate Authority, or Factory CA, is used to issue a “birth certificate” to a connected device, the CPE, in this case, at the manufacturing stage. This measure creates a foundation of trust, endowing each device with a unique identity. It ensures that the device can be securely onboarded to become a part of the network, authenticated, and establish secure communication with other authorized devices and networks.

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By deploying a Factory CA, CPE Manufacturers can play a pivotal role in protecting telecom networks by injecting birth certificates during production. It enables the CPE device to securely authenticate with the ISP's Operational CA, establishing a secure connection from the outset. As a result, CPEs can become a trusted part of the operating environment.

Automate certificate renewal for deployed CPE devices

While there is no stronger, easier-to-use authentication and encryption solution than the digital identity provided by PKI, manual certificate management is cumbersome and a potential deterrent when considering the scale of telecommunication networks.

Certificate management automation standards like EST (Enrolment over Secure Transport) ensure certificates are correctly configured and deployed at scale without human intervention. Once ISPs enroll their operator certificates onto CPEs through the EST protocol, CPEs can request certificates from a Certificate Authority, ensuring secure communication channels while authenticating via their birth certificates. This dual-layered approach not only establishes trust but also reinforces the integrity of the entire network.

Unleash the power of PKI

Common Criteria EAL4+ certified, the Nexus PKI platform can be leveraged by CPE Manufacturers, MNOs, and ISPs to increase the level of protection and security in the telecom networks. Global telecommunication service providers and vendors trust Nexus PKI to improve the availability of their infrastructure and protect consumers against potential security breaches.

The Nexus platform is based on 3GPP standards and compatible with the broadest range of certificate issuing, management, and automation protocols such as ACME, SCEP, EST, and more. This means that any standards-based network element, server, personal computer, or smart card can get the certificates necessary to establish the highest trust across the mobile network from the base stations and deep into the core network. Multiple deployment options mean the platform can be deployed on the premises, availed as a service, or utilized in a hybrid mode.

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The telecom sector must recognize the significance of CPE protection and embrace solutions that go beyond the surface to ensure a resilient and secure digital future. By adopting a scalable and reliable PKI, MNOs and ISPs adhere to industry standards and instill confidence in their subscribers that their home networks are shielded against evolving cyber threats.




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