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Designing Security for the Sixth Generation: About Necessity, Concepts and Opportunities

Christoph Lipps; Annika Tjabben; Matthias Rüb; Jan Herbst; Sogo Pierre Sanon; Rekha Reddy; Yorman Munoz; Hans Dieter Schotten
In: European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (ECCWS2023). European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (ECCWS-2023), June 22-23, Athens, Greece, ACI, 3/2023.


Intelligent, comprehensive and, above all, secure wireless interconnection is the driving force behind technological progress. To ensure this, the development towards Sixth Generation (6G) Wireless Systems has been launched and is scheduled to be operational by 2030. This data technology of the future turns 6G into the infrastructure of a new generation of mobile, intelligent, and context-sensitive services, available everywhere and featuring high trustworthiness and performance, relying on both, network-side and off-network context sources. In addition, the networks themselves ought to become intelligent and thus more efficient and resource-saving, which requires a high degree of automated utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Building upon the principles of information and communication theory for both the physical (bit)-transmission layer (PHY) and media access, new communication concepts for 6G will be developed providing the foundations for research into new single and multi-user operation, access and core networks. The flip side of this coin of opportunities: Sophisticated technology inevitably leads to additional security vulnerabilities, open access systems and Open-Radio Access Network (O-RAN) approaches imply new attack vectors. The holistic interconnection of everything renders it ever more attractive to attackers to harm systems, and create damage. Furthermore, enhanced computational power along with quantum computers make conventional systems more vulnerable than ever, and the value of the transmitted data increases tremendously: It is not only machine and sensor data, but also very personal and healthcare data transmitted with 6G. Therefore, the aim is to build a resilient and secure 6G system capable of recognizing attacks and uncertainties, flexibly absorbing them, recovering in a timely and sustainable manner, and compensating for impaired functionality through transformation. This holistic resilience-by-design approach is based, among other things, on technology such as Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and Post Quantum-Crypto to achieve end-to-end security, Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RISs) to rely, control and manipulate the wireless transmission channel, Wireless Optical Communication (WOC), Physical Layer Security (PhySec), but also Body Area Networks (BANs), the integration of the human body relying on biometrics and the Tactile Internet (TI). These concepts will be discussed and shed light on in the scope of this work.