A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder is leading a major project focused on 5G wireless security. The National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program has awarded CU Boulder a $5 million grant for their project called GHOST: 5G Hidden Operations through Securing Traffic.
The goal of the project is to ensure that American soldiers, businesses, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can safely use 5G cellular networks in foreign countries without the risk of their information being extracted by untrusted or potentially hostile network operators.
While 5G signals are encrypted, making it difficult for malicious operators to eavesdrop on conversations, there is still a wealth of data that can be obtained from transmissions. This includes users’ online activities, physical location, and patterns of usage for both individuals and organizations.
The interdisciplinary team of researchers has developed systems to disguise cellular communications by anonymizing user data and locations, hiding patterns of usage information, and even generating intentional false flag communications to deceive observers about the users’ actual location.
The project received a $750,000 Phase 1 grant last year for the initial development of the technology. The new $5 million grant will allow the team to combine the different components they have created into a single suite and commercialize the product.
Kurt Schaubach, Chief Technology Officer at Federated Wireless, one of the project’s major business partners, said,
“Our work is focused on enhancing the security of users of untrusted networks and streamlining private network provisioning. We are excited to work with university researchers to further enhance the security of private 5G networks for federal, defense, and commercial use.”
The team’s success in developing the initial technology is a promising indication of what the forthcoming product can achieve. The team is composed of researchers from various disciplines. Including electrical, computer, and energy engineering, political science, applied math, and computer science.
The tools developed by the team will function as a set of software applications. That will run on users’ phones and remain hidden, making it difficult for anyone to detect any unusual activity. This technology has the potential to make a significant difference in hostile environments and help keep people safer.
The project is not only important for the United States military. But also for companies and non-profit organizations operating in unstable regions. The ability to prevent their cell phones from being tracked can help protect corporate executives from potential kidnappings.
The collaboration with Federated Wireless. A company that builds and manages 5G networks, is crucial for testing prototypes and achieving the team’s commercialization goals.
The team at CU Boulder is excited about the opportunity to turn their research into practice. And bring wireless security innovations to the market. The $5 million grant will further propel their efforts in ensuring the safety and security of 5G wireless networks.