The PRIVATEER project is pioneering and developing privacy-first security enablers for future 6G network connectivity in Europe, with a particular eye on the smart cities and ITS sectors, as Gianmarco Donolato explains
PRIVATEER is a pioneering project, co-funded by the European Union with a visionary goal: to spearhead the implementation of privacy-first security enablers within the somewhat uncharted territory of 6G networks, with particular reference and relevance to the smart mobility sector.
The driving force behind this ambitious endeavour is the urgent need to confront head-on the escalating challenge posed by the evolving threat landscape for secure and networked systems on the horizon. PRIVATEER prepares to usher in a new era of security and privacy in the realm of 6G. The consortium of 13 partners sets its sights on an innovative blueprint, one that will define state-of-the-art technologies and architect a framework to counteract and mitigate these nascent security threats.
The driving force behind this ambitious endeavour is the urgent need to confront head-on the escalating challenge posed by the evolving threat landscape for secure and networked systems on the horizon
The partners will collaborate over a period of three years – until December 2025 – and will manage a budget of around €5m, co-funded by the European Union under the SNS JU framework. In the past few months, the SNS JU has launched 35 projects that received funding for around €250m. The PRIVATEER project responds to the HORIZON-JU-SNS-2022-STREAM-B-01-04 call focusing on Secure Service development and Smart Security and aims to advance on the identification/characterisation of the threat landscape applying to future end-to-end 6G connectivity and service systems and of the technologies and architecture to mitigate them.
How will we see 6G’s impact?
6G will potentially impact smart mobility in many ways. Through Ultra-High-Speed Connectivity, 6G is expected to provide significantly faster data speeds and lower latency compared to 5G, enabling real-time communication and data so that vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and with infrastructure rapidly, improving safety and efficiency.
Moreover, 6G is expected to provide improved coverage and energy efficiency, together with more accurate positioning and navigation capabilities. This in turn, will benefit autonomous vehicles and enhance the precision of location-based services in smart mobility applications. In addition it will enable massive IoT support that will enable better traffic management, reduced congestion and, as a result, enhanced safety.
With the growing importance of security in connected systems, 6G is expected to have enhanced security features to protect smart mobility systems from cyber attacks and ensure the safety of both passengers and pedestrians.
6G networks features and threats
The rapid development of 6G networks entails a profound duality: the promise of unprecedented connectivity and technological possibilities, juxtaposed with an ever-expanding spectrum of potential threats that endanger user privacy and ecosystem security.
The PRIVATEER project, in recognition of this dichotomy, assumes a proactive stance by placing privacy at the centre of security enablers for the forthcoming 6G landscape. This deliberate alignment with the privacy-oriented ideals of the EU's 6G vision, coupled with a commitment to comply with regulations such as GDPR and the upcoming ePrivacy framework, underscores the paramount significance of PRIVATEER. The project stands as a shield against the dynamic threatscape, particularly within domains such as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and the interconnected web of mobility.
To safeguard the privacy of stakeholders’ sensitive data, PRIVATEER leverages and enhances existing technologies, including decentralised federated learning powered by edge AI acceleration, distributed ledger technology (DLT) integrity controls, privacy and resource-driven optimisation of service orchestration, and threat sharing utilising searchable encryption. PRIVATEER also addresses challenges that are concerned with activities such as processing the intricate tapestry of infrastructure and network usage data, orchestrating security with a focus on vulnerability of both infrastructure and services, and harmonising the sharing of cyber-threat intelligence.
The first steps that project partners will take will involve analysing the 6G threat landscape, followed by the designing and building of PRIVATEER’s privacy-first integrated framework for two use cases, i.e. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Smart Cities.
To tackle the identified challenges, PRIVATEER will test its architecture by focusing on: 1) processing of infrastructure and network usage data, 2) security-aware orchestration, 3) infrastructure and service attestation, and 4) cyber-threat intelligence sharing. The project consortium will face these challenges by introducing several innovations, including decentralised robust security analytics, privacy-aware techniques for network slicing and service orchestration and distributed infrastructure and service attestation mechanisms.
The first steps that project partners will take will involve analysing the 6G threat landscape, followed by the designing and building of PRIVATEER’s privacy-first integrated framework for two use cases, i.e. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Smart Cities
ITS sector to benefit from PRIVATEER
The nexus between PRIVATEER and the ITS sector is more than a mere convergence – it is a synergy of innovation and necessity. As 6G networks unfold their complex structures, transport is bound to become a key beneficiary. In the dawning era of 6G, the proliferation of edge computing within the transport sector finds resonance with PRIVATEER's mission to fortify interconnected networks while safeguarding the security of data flows. The real-world scenarios depicted by PRIVATEER create a multitude of possibilities: from securing the complexity of automated driving functions to choreographing logistics operations.
6G technology will be deployed extensively, which means that Edge Computing will be further employed as network functions, processing capabilities, content and applications will be distributed to the edge of the network. The challenge for security enablers in future networks is to address the need to preserve the privacy of all actors in the 6G chain while enabling an extended deployment of interconnected edges.
The current vision for 6G calls for even stricter and more sophisticated security controls. At the same time, privacy is considered a key pillar in EU research and development activities towards 6G, as privacy enablement is considered a top societal aspect in the EU 6G vision.
PRIVATEER acknowledges this need for privacy and goes one step further for 6G “privacy-first security” through studying, designing and developing innovative security enablers for 6G networks, following a privacy-by-design approach.
The nexus between PRIVATEER and the ITS sector is more than a mere convergence – it is a synergy of innovation and necessity. As 6G networks unfold their complex structures, transport is bound to become a key beneficiary. In the dawning era of 6G
“As smart communication technologies are becoming more and more complex, security is always a challenge, and ITS is one of the sectors to be most impacted from 6G evolutions”, explains Dr Georgios Gardikis, R&D Manager at Space Hellas and coordinator of the PRIVATEER project. “We are working with all of the consortium partners to make sure that the project developments stay relevant and address concrete needs of the vertical markets, with particular focus on ITS”.
PRIVATEER has received funding from the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) under the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 101096110
More information and the project’s latest developments can be found on the PRIVATEER website and its social media channels (LinkedIn and Twitter) or email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
The 13 partners that comprise the consortium are Space Hellas, NCSRD, Telefónica I+D, RHEA, INESC TEC, Infili Technology, Ubitech, Complutense University of Madrid, ICCS, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, IQUADRAT R&D, Instituto Politécnico do Porto and ERTICO ITS Europe