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NSA: The rattle of the Juniper back doors in the German 5G network

Last updated on March 9, 2021

Ericsson uses Juniper routers in the 5G area and is a supplier to Telekom . Telefonica and Vodafone are also aware of a mission.

A research by Achim Sawall and Moritz Tremmel October 30, 2020, 5:21 p.m.

Core network of a 5G operator (Image: Achim Sawall /

In the security debate about 5G networks in Germany, it is noticeable that a ban on US companies such as Juniper, whose products demonstrably had or have NSA backdoors, has not yet been called for. According to a report by Reuters, Juniper Networks, the world's second largest network supplier after Cisco, has told the US Congress that an NSA backdoor in Juniper software has been exploited by another state.

This mainly concerns firewalls and VPN gateways. Since the current 5G networks of the three German operators are all based on 4G in the core, this also raises questions about 5G security, because Juniper mainly produces high-end routers that run in the core and edge area of telecommunications networks.

In contrast to the Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, we have evidence that the NSA had backdoors installed in several US companies. With Dual EC DRBG, she developed a random number generator and had it standardized by NIST, which is ultimately a standardized backdoor. The NSA even paid RSA $ 10 million to integrate the insecure random number generator into their software.

Telefónica Spain with Juniper Networks

The use of Juniper routers in the core of Telefónica Spain has been confirmed. As Juniper announced in October 2020 , there is close cooperation here, apparently also in the core. "The provider created a converged, flat network for IP and aggregation functions using Juniper Networks' MX-Series Universal 5G routing platform. Cellular base stations and OTT providers (Over The Top). " It also states that Juniper's Security Gateway (SecGW) was selected by the network operator.

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At least in 2002, Deutsche Telekom purchased AXI 580 and AXI 520 IP backbone routers from Ericsson , which are based on the M series router models from Juniper Networks. Juniper and Ericsson have recently entered into a partnership for 5G and solutions for mobile data transmission to connect radio and packet core systems. In July 2020, Telekom placed an order with Ericsson to expand mobile radio stations (Radio Access Networks – RAN) to 5G in parts of Germany. However, RAN is not core.

Juniper announced in September 2018 that Vodafone has selected the US company as its global SD-WAN partner.

All suppliers have in common that their products are not immune to security gaps. On the contrary, serious security vulnerabilities are repeatedly found in network products. Secret services such as the NSA use this fact to hack or attempt to hack routers from manufacturers such as Juniper or Huawei . In some cases, the devices are simply intercepted in the mail, given spy chips and forwarded. Even telecommunications providers such as Belgian Belgacom were hacked by the British secret service GCHQ . asked Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica on October 30th whether Juniper hardware would continue to be used in the core of their mobile networks. At least at Telefónica this has been confirmed from informed circles . Of course, this does not prove whether the devices contain back doors.

"Vodafone Germany does not use the Juniper products that are affected by the back door issue," said company spokesman Volker Petendorf on request.

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