Researchers have discovered new vulnerabilities in metasurfaces, the key components of the 6G of the future, but what are metasurfaces and what do these attacks consist of?
New advances in technology promise a new era of wireless connectivity with the development of 6G, but researchers have recently discovered vulnerabilities in this technology that raise serious concerns.
These vulnerabilities, as they explain, could open the door to new types of attacks that take advantage of weaknesses in programmable metasurfaces, essential elements for the deployment of these advanced networks.
To understand it better, programmable metasurfaces are components that can be incorporated into everyday objects, such as window glasswith the purpose of optimizing communication channels.
For example, if this window is equipped with a programmable metasurface, light waves passing through it could be manipulated. This would allow, for example, to block certain wavelengths to reduce heat and sunlight on a hot day, or even change the transparency of the window according to the intensity of the outside light.
In the context of 6G, these have a key role in optimizing wireless communication. They can be used to improve signal quality between devices, reduce interference, and extend the range of the connection.
Metasurfaces are expected to play a crucial role in the future of 6G, which promises even faster speeds than the best 5G networks and home broadband.
However, a team of researchers from Peking University, Sannio University and Southeastern University has shown that they can also be exploited to launch attacks on wireless networks. In an article published in Nature Electronicsidentified two types of attacks: active and passive.
Metasurfaces and two new associated attack types
In a passive attack scenario, a metasurface could be used to eavesdrop on wireless interactions and tamper with signals, even interrupting communication between devices. On the other hand, an active attack would allow an attacker to generate false data while listening for a legitimate connection, all by manipulating metasurfaces.
This discovery, how could it be otherwise, has alerted the community and brings to the table great concerns regarding security in the development of 6G.
The researchers stress the importance of integrating cybersecurity measures into metasurfaces as they evolve and eventually develop, since 6G is expected to launch in 2030.
It is precisely this team that is now focusing on establishing specific defenses against these two types of attacks—beamforming, cooperative interference with artificial noise, and various modulation tactics.