Strengthening the security of broadband 5G/6G communication networks

1 min read

The "RealSec5G" project is intended to test the requirements for data security in communication devices for 5G/6G infrastructures in a deterministic time-sensitive network (TSN).

At a time when the security of communications networks is becoming more important, the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS is designing a TSN-MACsec function block that will be tested as part of a demonstrator.

The final implementation and performance analysis will be done in cooperation with the industrial company albis-elcon system Germany.

As wireless technologies continue to evolve, especially with the introduction of 5G and considerations for 6G, they promise significant increases in speed, capacity, and connectivity. At the same time, however, they pose data security challenges.

Reliable and secure networks are critical for critical applications such as the monitoring and control of rail and energy networks, as well as autonomous vehicles and robots. Special cases such as closed-loop applications already meet these requirements, but open architectures such as 5G/6G networks generally do not.

As part of the "RealSec5G" project, Fraunhofer IPMS and the consortium leader albis-elcon system Germany will develop and test a communication solution that increases data reliability and security for 5G/6G applications.

The project aims to combine deterministic requirements in the form of real-time capability, redundancy and transmission guarantees as well as data security in a cost-effective and easy-to-integrate system. To this end, Fraunhofer IPMS is designing a TSN-MACsec function block.

"MACsec stands for Media Access Control Security and is a security standard specified by the IEEE for the protection of Ethernet-based networks. It guarantees the confidentiality and integrity of Ethernet frames," explained Dr. Frank Deicke, head of the Data Communication and Computing department at Fraunhofer IPMS. "Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) adds time synchronisation and deterministic communication to a number of Ethernet specifications. The final implementation and performance analysis will be done in cooperation with albis-elcon.

The goal of the project is to support high data rates in the multigigabit range and to test and evaluate them on a practical, comparatively inexpensive FPGA platform (off-the-shelf module) in a realistic test environment.

Together with albis-elcon, the project will help to strengthen a core area of the value chain. Both project partners believe that the successful completion of the project will result in a large number of relevant opportunities which, despite technological risks, can be expected to be exploited quickly and effectively due to the wide range of safety-critical applications in Germany.

In addition to the focused sectors of energy and transportation, the project solution can be scaled to other critical infrastructure application scenarios. These include applications in government and administration, healthcare, information technology and telecommunications.