University of Oulu

¨J. Suomalainen, J. Julku, M. Vehkaperä and H. Posti, "Securing Public Safety Communications on Commercial and Tactical 5G Networks: A Survey and Future Research Directions," in IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society, vol. 2, pp. 1590-1615, 2021, doi: 10.1109/OJCOMS.2021.3093529

Securing public safety communications on commercial and tactical 5G networks : a survey and future research directions

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Author: Suomalainen, Jani1; Julku, Jukka1; Vehkaperä, Mikko2;
Organizations: 1VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 02044 Espoo, Finland
2VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 90571 Oulu, Finland
3Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-07


The forthcoming communication networks for public safety authorities rely on the fifth generation (5G) of mobile networking technologies. Police officers, paramedics, border guards, as well as fire and rescue personnel, will connect through commercial operator’s access network and rapidly deployable tactical bubbles. This transition from closed and dedicated infrastructure to hybrid architecture will expand the threat surface and expose mission-critical applications and sensitive information to cyber and physical adversaries. We explore and survey security architecture and enablers for prioritized public safety communication in 5G networks. We identify security threat scenarios and analyze enabling vulnerabilities, threat actors, attacks vectors, as well as risk levels. Security enablers are surveyed for tactical access and core networks, commercial infrastructure, and mission-critical applications, starting from push-to-talk and group video communication and leading to situational-awareness and remote-controlled systems. Two solutions are trialed and described in more detail: remote attestation enhanced access control for constrained devices, and securing of satellite backhauls. We also discuss future research directions highlighting the need for enablers to automate security of rapid deployments, for military-grade cost-effective customizations of commercial network services to ensure robustness, and for hardening of various types of public safety equipment.

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Series: IEEE open journal of the Communications Society
ISSN: 2644-125X
ISSN-E: 2644-125X
ISSN-L: 2644-125X
Volume: 2
Pages: 1590 - 1615
DOI: 10.1109/OJCOMS.2021.3093529
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work was supported in part by the Business Finland and in part by the consortium partners of the PRIORITY Project.
Copyright information: © The Authors 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. For more information, see