the UMU has the answer

The University of Murcia develop a set of tools for improve security protocols in 5G and 6G networks. These new network ecosystems will increase the number of actors that share information, but at the same time they will multiply security breaches and avenues for malicious attacks. require of intelligent control systems that go far beyond the current ones.

Antonio Skármeta shows Nadia Calviño a drone equipped with 5G technology.

The interconnected environment is already a reality. Cars, traffic lights, streetlights, even refrigerators and, of course, mobile phones, are exchanging information on a continuous basis. It is a digital space, in which the different devices interact with each other not only on the network, but also forming their own networks, to share data of all kinds.

How the UMU will improve security in 5G and 6G networks

New security challenges are posed, in which the University of Murcia is working, in a project directed by Antonio Skarmeta, to improve the security of all these networks that are emerging today. Its about CERBERUS projectthe details of which the Vice President of the Government, Nadia Calviño, learned first-hand during a visit to the University of Murcia.

This digital and sensorized society is heading towards an even greater interconnectionhand in hand with fifth generation networks, known as 5G which, among other advantages, will allow there to be a greater number of connected devices per square meter, that the capacity to transport information through networks is increased and that latency is reducedthat is, the time elapsed between the emission of a signal and the receipt of a response.

These networks are being deployed right now, even if the end user is unaware, and sIt is expected that in a matter of just over a year, the operators will completely put aside 4G and bet on this new technology; so that Spain will become one of the first countries to have this technology on a massive scale. And in about ten years, 5G will give way to 6G, which will mean more speed, greater network capacity, and multiplying the number of devices that can be connected at the same time.

What security problems arise in 5G and 6G

5G and 6G are different network environments, more distributed and less monolithic. In them, many actors are admitted, who participate in the network, either obtaining information or providing data of all kinds. There is a much more horizontal continuous exchange, which has a huge number of advantages. But also of risks, above all, in terms of security.

As Antonio Skarmeta explains, with CERBERUS “we developed a series of tools that can be integrated with the management of 5G technology, to decide which are the security protocols that must be deployed in the different components that make up a network“.

Calviño learned all the details of the CERBERUS project during a recent visit to the UMU.

How the network security system developed by the UMU will act

ANDThis security system will be prepared to act “dynamically” in the event of an attack or security breach being detected, at which point will proceed to adjust and resize the network, to mitigate the effects of this malicious intrusion as much as possible. In other words, it will introduce a intelligent infrastructure security management modelto “organize the response that the network must have in the event of a possible attack”.

As this professor from the University of Murcia also says, with CERBERUS we are working on the development of a technological solution that “orchestras” all the components of the network, to shield it from any threat and make it more secure.

What will network ecosystems be like?

This type of equipment is essential in the digital communication scenario that comes with the new generations of networks, in which more and more providers will participate. “Right now an operator offers you everything: infrastructure and access. The idea is that more and more entities will join. For example, your car, which provides service to other vehicles that are circulating in the area, which makes it another operator of that network”, argues Antonio Skarmeta.

In the context of networks that are being implemented with 5G, and even more so when 6G arrives, it will be necessary to coordinate many elements that will become part of the communication value chain. “We will move to a more distributed model and that implies that there are more points of friction, more points of attackand all of them must be coordinated in terms of security and quality of service”.

In these networks, the question is not only to make them secure, but also why each of the elements that compose them individually apply actions to protect themselves from threatsso that they themselves are safe and, incidentally, the rest of the elements that work interconnected.

“The problem is that you have to have security throughout the chain, guarantee security throughout the service, because the weakest link can put all the others at risk. Making each of these elements know what to do in the event of a security problem and, to the extent of their tools and possibilities, act”, says this researcher from the Department of Information and Communications Engineering at the University of Murcia.

Three advances brought by 5G and 6G

With the arrival of 5G, and even more so with 6G, three fundamental steps will be taken for the new ecosystem of digital communicationfull of new players and characterized by almost total interconnection.

Antonio Skarmeta explains that, first of all, capillarity will be increased, that is, the number of nodes connected per square meter. These network technologies are going to allow the number of devices that can be connected at the same time to grow, and when talking about devices it is not just about people with their mobiles, such as the concentration of people that occurs at a music festival. music, but elements of the Internet of Things, such as city devices, vehicle sensors and all kinds of electronic devices that can be connected to the Internet.

At the same time, not only will this capillarity be greater, but it will also be possible to do so with a greater bandwidth, essential, since “these entities increasingly require more resources”says Antonio Skarmeta.

And as a third element that will distinguish these new networks from the previous ones, the latency reductionwhich will reduce the response time of the devices from the current 200 milliseconds to as little as only 1 millisecond, in the case of 5G networks; and 0.1 millisecond, which will be achieved when 6G is deployed.

Control panel of a 5G project developed by the UMU.

What technology will these networks enable?

These response times, as well as the number of agents that can be incorporated into the network will facilitate the implementation of the driverless vehiclein which a tenth of a second can be vital, and which is equipped with a huge number of sensors and cameras to keep track of everything that happens around it with other vehicles, road obstacles and pedestrians.

This type of vehicle will work with a local processor, that is, with its on-board computer, what happens is that the amount of information to be processed will be such that the computer will remain small, and “The trend is for it to rely more and more on other devices on the network, to interpret the information it collects from the environment”.

What role will the local network infrastructure play in the new interconnected scenario?

The local network infrastructure will be essential for the vehicles of the coming years, and not only the self-employed. Antonio Skarmeta and his team from the University of Murcia are working, in collaboration with Renault, on a project based on 5G technology, with which it is expected improve the processing of information received by the car through all its sensors. The objective pursued is to achieve that the vehicle take advantage of the network systems distributed in its immediate environment and not depend only on the processor that equips the car itselfwhose calculation capacity is limited and it is not feasible to change it from time to time, as the volume of information to be handled increases.

The new network ecosystems that are yet to arrive pose a new management model, that can be based on a model like the current onewith few data centers in the hands of large operators. Or another, more distributed, that allows the entry of new actors, with more smaller but more specialized data centers. “But one of the discussions there is the energy cost of having distributed centers, which would be higher than having it centralized in large data centers,” adds Antonio Skarmeta.

Whether one model or another, the fact is that a new stage of digital communication and interconnection is about to enter; a stage that is as exciting as it is critical, in which security and intelligent control of the systems are going to be key for everything to work properly, and for citizens to take advantage of the new 5G and 6G eras.

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