secunet, Germany’s leading cybersecurity company, is leading a consortium that will develop and test trustworthy 5G and 6G systems as part of a research project. The focus is primarily on the question of how the availability and resilience of the networks can be enforced – while maintaining their advanced functionalities. The project is part of the initiative “Cyber Security and Digital Sovereignty in 5G/6G Communication Technologies” of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and is funded by this authority.
“5G mobile networks are part of the backbone of the digital transformation and should therefore be regarded as central critical infrastructure,” says Dr Kai Martius, Chief Technology Officer of secunet and head of the consortium. “This will apply to an even greater extent to future next-generation (6G) networks. This makes the continuous availability of these networks all the more important – even in possible crisis situations. That is what our research project aims to achieve and thus contributes to Germany’s digital sovereignty.”
As a technical starting point, a trusted virtualisation environment is planned that can serve as the foundation of the overall security architecture of the networks. This virtualisation environment will make it possible in future to integrate non-trusted components or software solutions without jeopardising the security and availability of the network. This addresses risks that can arise in mobile communications, for example, through supply chains with many participants. The virtualisation environment will be based on technologies that secunet has developed in recent years as part of its sovereign cloud portfolio. The research project will also create concepts for a secure restart of mobile networks in the event that, despite all security measures, failures should occur, for example due to natural disasters.
The other companies and institutions participating in the consortium are Vodafone, Scontain, the Barkhausen Institute, the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU / Professor Dr Norman Franchi, Chair of Electrical Smart City Systems) and, as an associated partner, the Ilmenau University of Technology. The project is scheduled to run for 24 months and will start immediately.
secunet has already participated in research work on the security of mobile networks in the past, such as the study on security risks in the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN), which was initiated by the BSI in 2021.