SLISE - Network Slicing Security for next generation factories


The convergence of technologies and the interoperability of products and services has revolutionized the way ICTs are understood and used, in a similar way to what the expansion of the Internet meant 30 years ago. The concept of 5G technologies goes far beyond an evolution of mobile technologies, and integrates almost all current communication technologies (mobile, wireless, wired...) always with the aim of guaranteeing bandwidth or latency indicators. At the same time, the independence of the medium and the transparency of transport are sought. This technology promises to enable a multitude of applications with the capacity for global transformation: autonomous driving, remote surgeries, the Internet of Everything, etc., but none of them can reach society if the risks associated with the use of the technologies that make their operation possible. In addition, this technology can be applied in different industrial sectors, especially in the field of Industry 4.0, such as in advanced manufacturing, or in industrial plants where the reliability and security of real-time communications must be guaranteed.

The objective of the SLISE project is to mitigate the vulnerabilities that the new virtualization technologies adopted massively at the core of the 5G architecture (and which are already part of the technical drafts of the sixth generation) have dragged into the new paradigm of communications as a service. Specifically, research into new algorithms is proposed: incident analysis, encryption, identification and automated response; in a more flexible context to face the risks inherent to virtualization technologies: Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Slicing (NS). All this will be studied, defining demanding indicators that broadly cover these objectives, in a set of use scenarios that present different protection priorities and that include the use of communications in the context of critical infrastructure management, as well as the use of communications in the manufacturing industry.

The relevance of research on virtualization technologies in the new generation of communications is made clear by the large number of publications and related documents in the form of scientific articles, white papers, and developing standards. As an example, ENISA, the European Union Agency for cybersecurity and a benchmark in security risks of 5G technologies, tripled the content dedicated to these technologies in its latest update. Another relevant indicator is the current trend to apply solutions developed in the 5G context on sectors that are very different from communications operators, due to the advantages it brings.

For all these reasons, this project is aligned with the national MISIONES program and specifically with Mission 5: Promotion of information security, privacy and cybersecurity in the Spanish economy and society of the 21st century, and mainly in the field “ Technologies that guarantee the security of 5G networks and their dependent critical services, the secure exchange of information and reliability of digital systems”, and with a direct application in the protection of communications in the field of “Security of machines, vehicles and of industrial environments.

VICOMTECH's role in SLISE is twofold. On the one hand, it proposes a complete 5G communications laboratory, in which the most relevant cyberattacks can be simulated and the most effective countermeasures tested. This laboratory includes wired, wireless and cellular networks, as well as the necessary equipment to support them: RAN, UEs, 5G-Core, etc. On the other hand, VICOMTECH contributes the Digital Security knowledge and technology in the application of Machine Learning technologies to the detection of cyber attacks, the design of automatic response mechanisms, and will validate different alternatives for the protection of privacy and communications through managing user and device identities.

The SLISE project has a duration of 37 months, starting on December 1, 2021 and ending on December 31, 2024. Due to the complexity of the problem to be solved, and the technological changes that will still occur during the implementation phase of the 5G technologies on a massive scale, its development has been proposed with a general scheme based on two iterations. An initial approach to the architectures necessary to generate the scenarios, with a set of initial attacks and defenses to establish a first demonstrator pilot, and a final approach in which the lessons learned during the development of the project are incorporated, as well as the novelties in the state of the art that is accessed due to participation in forums, discussion groups and projects aligned with this theme.

The SLISE consortium is led by S2 Grupo, one of the largest "pure players" in the field of cybersecurity in Spain, which will be in charge of coordinating both the administrative-financial management of the project and its scientific-technological direction. The consortium is also made up of 7 other Spanish companies that cover the cybersecurity value chain in the use of 5G: three cybersecurity provider companies (Titanium, Plexus and Eneo), one communications company (Optare), an instrumentation manufacturer ( T&M) (GSertel) and 2 end users (Red Eléctrica Española and Elewit), of different sizes (Optare and Eneo are SMEs and the rest are large companies). These companies will be supported by 4 technology centers (Gradiant, Vicomtech, Ikergune, Innovalia) and the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), with proven experience and positioning on the subject, highlighting the participation of Vicomtech and Gradiant since 2020 in 2 Cervera networks, especially relevant to this project: (one oriented to 5G technology and another oriented to the protection of information), which complement the research work of UPM, Innovalia and Ikergune. All of them share the vision of offering secure communications services to society and to current and future industry.

Project financed by the Missions Program - Science and Innovation Missions - CDTI

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