An Overview of Key Technologies in Physical Layer Security

The open nature of radio propagation enables ubiquitous wireless communication. This allows for seamless data transmission. However, unauthorized users may pose a threat to the security of the data being transmitted to authorized users. This gives rise to network vulnerabilities such as hacking, eavesdropping, and jamming of the transmitted information. Physical layer security (PLS) has been identified as one of the promising security approaches to safeguard the transmission from eavesdroppers in a wireless network. It is an alternative to the computationally demanding and complex cryptographic algorithms and techniques. PLS has continually received exponential research interest owing to the possibility of exploiting the characteristics of the wireless channel. One of the main characteristics includes the random nature of the transmission channel. The aforesaid nature makes it possible for confidential and authentic signal transmission between the sender and the receiver in the physical layer. We start by introducing the basic theories of PLS, including the wiretap channel, information-theoretic security, and a brief discussion of the cryptography security technique. Furthermore, an overview of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) communication is provided. The main focus of our review is based on the existing key-less PLS optimization techniques, their limitations, and challenges. The paper also looks into the promising key research areas in addressing these shortfalls. Lastly, a comprehensive overview of some of the recent PLS research in 5G and 6G technologies of wireless communication networks is provided.