Current students


Section: Computer Science and Engineering

Major Research topic:
Post-quantum ready mobile network communications: feasibility analysis and realization engineering.

Mobile Networks are at the core of our society, assumed to be safe and available by default. However, future development of quantum computing threatens this assumption with respect to data privacy due to vulnerable cryptography. Post-Quantum cryptography arose as a solution to this problem. We propose to investigate the engineering challenges in tailoring post-quantum cryptography to 4G/5G networks at radio level with a scope of algorithm optimization, analysis up to a real implementation.

The radio technologies collectively known as Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network (E-UTRAN) are part of the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) project for the development of a high-performance interface for cellular mobile communication systems. This technology enables seamless communication mobility for users, using the same equipment (cellphone) between countries without having to change parameters on the device nor the network.  The system architecture of the 4th and 5th generation of radio technologies marketed as 4G and 5G is based on a network communication design that establishes a flat (not hierarchical) architecture similar to other IP-based communications networks. All of the above together comprises the current standard for global mobile communications, established by the Third Generation Partner Project (3GPP) as well as European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). In particular, the reference system architecture named (System Architecture Evolution - SAE) consists of the User Equipment (UE), Radio Network (E-UTRAN), Evolved Packet Core (EPC), and Data Network (Internet). Likewise, in 5G there are New Radio (NR) and 5G Core (5GC), equivalents to EPC and E-UTRAN.

Problem and Importance
The confidentiality and authentication services at the air interface between the UE and the base station (a.k.a. evolved NodeB-eNB) in the E-UTRAN tier are currently relying on security which in turn adapts and resembles the Transport Security Layer protocol (TLS) of IP networks and employs a portfolio of cryptographic primitives to allow a UE and an eNB to negotiate the use of a subset of them at the beginning of a communication session. The same logic applies to the gNB (eNodeB in NR).    Moreover, the link between the UE and eNB currently uses the de-facto standards initially devised and recommended by the RSA laboratories Inc. to encode cryptographic data (a.k.a. PKCS) and make their transfer and management portable among infrastructures provided by different vendors.  The current portfolio of public-key cryptographic schemes employed in both TLS and E-UTRAN is not quantum-computing ready. The advent of quantum computers with a sufficient number of qubits poses a serious threat to the security of the currently employed cryptographic schemes [2].  Indeed, it is well known that a quantum computer is able to accelerate exponentially the mathematical breaking of the currently employed cryptographic primitives provided that a sufficient number of qubits is deployed [2]. This technology has seen a swift increase in the last few years, being driven by the academy, industry, and governmental stakeholders pushing to further develop and standardize it. Additionally, the lifespan of 4G and 5G networks is still long enough to theoretically encounter with the emergence of initial commercial Quantum Computing[2],[3], turning this problem critical.