5G IoT Devices Working in Secure and Ultra-Low Latency Environments

Abstract

The fifth generation of cellular networks (5G) offers great potential for older technologies, allowing them to connect with big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and many others. 5G networks present a big opportunity for IoT devices due to their fast speed, low latency, and high access [1]. The IoT allows the existence of a link between the physical world and virtual devices [2].

5G makes the world more and more connected and can connect about devices per square kilometer [2]. It can handle a high volume of data with high speed. IoT devices that can profit from 5G technology are related to smart grids, smart and connected cities, the internet of battlefield and military things, and more [2].

Traditional IoT devices (connected to the cloud) have suffered from privacy and security issues [3] and this is accentuated by the fact that data access is done in a centralized way when it comes to the storage and accessibility of data and transactions. Blockchain technologies have been used to counter this problem due to their decentralized way of working and provide a very solid and effective security system. IoT devices are limited due to their lack of computational power, blockchains provide very strong network security for data integrity and 5 G allows for ultra-low latency.

The focus of this thesis is to design a framework that can merge these three technologies taking into consideration the shortcomings and benefits of each. Proof of work, one of the most powerful security consensus of blockchain technology, will be the main focus on the security side of the framework; it will be modified to better fit the identities and goals of the three technologies.

Keywords꞉ 5G; Internet of Things (IoT) devices; Blockchain; Data integrity; Centralized; Decentralized; Low latency; Proof of work.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction.. 9

1.1 Context. 9

1.1.1 Consensus mechanisms. 10

1.1.2 Decentralized infrastructures. 10

1.1.3 Types of Blockchain. 11

1.2   Problem Statement. 12

1.3 Aim and objectives. 12

1.4 Benefits. 12

1.5 Methodology. 13

Chapter 2꞉ Literature review… 15

2. Literature Review.. 15

Chapter 3: Proposed framework.. 40

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONs. 43

CHAPTER 6: FUTURE WORKs. 44

REFERENCES. 45

List of Abbreviations

Abbreviations Meaning
IoT Internet of Things
IoMT Internet of Medical Things
PoW Proof of Work
5G 5th Generation
PoS Proof of Stake
PoSp Proof of Space
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

List of Figures

Figure Number Figure Title
Figure 1 Proposed Communication between Devices
Figure 2  
   
   

 List of Tables

Table Number Table Title
Table 1  
Table 2  
Table 3  
Table 4  
Table 5  
Table 6  

Chapter 1: Introduction

 1.1 Context

One of the oldest technologies which have revolutionized the way the internet works, from computer-based technologies to our daily and social work, is the Internet of Things (IoT). It allows us to merge our daily life with the internet. IoT devices usually work hand in hand with cloud computing and which uses a central server to store and access data. This has led to multiple security and privacy problems [3].

The world of technology has been evolving and features have become more amazing over the years. Most of the improvements are related to the capacity increase, throughput, and coverage increase [4]. 5G, compared to its predecessor, focuses on providing a more stable mobile broadband, supports massive machine type communication, and provides ultra-reliable and ultra-low latency communication [5]. Multiple researchers have tried to merge what is called blockchain technology and IoT [2], but now there is a new trend of trying to merge 5G and blockchain.

IoT devices can benefit from blockchain security and 5G speed but the merger can also have some drawbacks. These drawbacks need to be identified to bring out the best of the three technologies.

Blockchain technology has resolved multiple security threats that have crippled cloud computing [3], but this has come at a price. 5G and blockchain have huge potential when it comes to allowing the globalization of technology if they are fused. 5G provides speed and blockchain will provide the necessary security. Blockchain can bring stable tracking, traceability, and resolve security issues brought by 5G and the centralized way of working of traditional IoT devices [3].

The major drawbacks of the merger are related to throughput and consensus of work from blockchain technologies, in general, and specifically about Proof of Work (PoW) consensus.

The throughput of blockchain is related to the number of actions per unit of time made within a system. It is obvious that the number of IoT devices working in a network is usually huge and this means that the number of actions may sometimes be immense. This provides a big challenge because of the Real-time nature of many IoT applications. In addition, blockchain applications usually have low throughput [3]. Therefore, it is imperative to resolve this problem.

Consensus of work: the consensus mechanism that will be adopted in this project is PoW, one of the most popular mechanisms [3]. PoW requires a lot of computational and processing power which is another big challenge for IoT devices due to their restrictions in resources [3]. So, the PoW will need to be modified to better fit the computational power of each device in an IoT network.

Technological aspects of the three technologies that will be examined are the following꞉

1.1.1 Consensus mechanisms

A new consensus mechanism related to the PoW will be developed since that the consensus mechanism is the very base of blockchain technologies [6]. In blockchain, there exist multiple types of consensus protocols such as PBFT, Proof of Stake (PoS), and proof of elapsed time (PoET), but most of the existing applications use PoW due to its high integrity and security [7]. PoW is usually used in Bitcoin applications to ensure that the ledger does not suffer from unwanted and unauthorized changes.

PoW usually works in the following way: A candidate block that wants to enter the ledger to make any transactions must pass the result of a highly difficult calculation using the hash value of the information or transaction plus a random nonce [7]. If the calculation does not meet a certain criterion, then a recalculation will be done with a different nonce; this will be considered as a new try [8]. In short, PoW requires a node or block (IoT device in the network) to try and solve a highly difficult computational problem to validate a certain number of transactions and add them to the ledger or blockchain [9]. Note that each time there is a need for a new calculation, the hash values are calculated based on the previous information that was contained in the blockchain before the try. PoW works to protect transactions in Bitcoin applications; the randomness of each subsequent calculation brings a high level of security. The meaning of PoW calculation allows transactions that are included in the block to be virtually impossible to change by unauthorized blocks or devices [10]. However, all these calculations have high computational power requirements.

1.1.2 Decentralized infrastructures

IoT devices use a centralized way of working. With the different threats that have been encountered over the years, more and more applications have adopted blockchain technologies with their decentralized way of working and adapted them to fit their needs. However, security is what is most desired. Therefore, the decentralized way of working and the security solution that comes with blockchain technologies will need to be integrated into 5G IoT devices.

1.1.3 Types of Blockchain

The type of blockchain will also be chosen based on the need that will be explored in this project. There will be three types of blockchain. This new framework will be explored and the quality of each of them will be identified as follows:

  • Public or permission-less blockchain where anyone can join the network and participate as any other node [4].
  • Private or permissioned blockchain where a certain entity makes a restriction. The smart contract that executes the acts is included automatically once the conditions have been fulfilled without the intervention of a third party [4].
  • Consortium blockchain this is controlled by a certain group of approved entities who have the role of ensuring the privacy of the network as well as its security.

In 5G networks, each type of blockchain is deployed differently for several reasons and has different outcomes [6].

The framework will be designed based on the analysis of the three different types of blockchain and the analysis of the different problems mentioned above, namely throughput, low latency, and security problems.

The framework will be designed with different cells which will contain blockchain – like nodes (IoT devices) and will be separated. Each cell will handle its own related transaction and any demand or pending transaction will be sent and handled by the cell which possesses the least number of transactions or the one that is free. The cells will be linked by a central node (server- like device) that will be placed in each cell. The PoW will be deduced by those nodes.

In this thesis, a framework will be developed and designed in a way that can integrate 5G with blockchain for IoT devices. The framework will ensure that blockchain can remove the security issues found in traditional IoT networks, but also ensure that the throughput and PoW problem is resolved.

1.2   Problem Statement

Multiple problems pertaining to the merger of 5G, IoT, and blockchain technologies have to be resolved to bring out the best out of the three technologies. In this thesis, the following problems will be addressed ꞉

  1. Throughput problems related to blockchain applications
  2. High computational power required for PoW consensus (as the network grows the power required also grows)
  3. Low latency problem related to the proof of work consensus mechanism.

1.3 Aim and objectives

The framework designed to merge IoT, blockchain and 5G will allow the following goals to be met꞉

  1. High security for 5G IoT devices in a network (integrity and authentication)
  2. Revised PoW consensus mechanism fitting for devices that do not have a lot of computational power in a very large network.
  3. Finding out which among the three main blockchain technologies related to 5G is a better fit for our framework.

1.4 Benefits

The benefits presented by the framework are numerous and allow most technologies used over a network to have solid security and high accessibility.

  1. Providing security to IoT devices in a 5G network꞉ Due to the swiftness of the 5G network, the world is more connected than ever, so security through authentication and integrity must be rigorous to avoid a catastrophe that attacks such as denial of service can bring.
  2. Providing availability and reliability to IoT devices even in a very large network, while using blockchain with PoW as the consensus mechanism: Most IoT devices have limited resources when it comes to computational power. In contrast, PoW requires a lot of computational power in a network, especially when there are a lot of devices. It can be seen that a solution that can cater to that problem is needed. The framework will allow IoT devices to overcome this challenge.

 1.5 Methodology

In this research, the areas of the IoT, blockchain and 5G technologies are limited to their implementation in a network with potentially millions of devices. A literature review analyses in depth the previous work related to ????????????. The framework is then designed and compared in terms of efficiency in three different environments related to the three main technologies of 5G, IoT and blockchain.

  1. Providing a solution on how Iot devices can be independently arranged and keeps on working in a network
  2. Providing a solution on how low latency can be avoided with a network of millions of devices in Proof of Work environment
  3. Providing a network structure secure against different kind of attacks
  4. Providing a modified consensus mechanism fitting IoT devices
  5. Providing an Environment where the framework will work in accordance with the best qualities of the three technologies

In the remainder of this thesis, the following parts are presented꞉

Chapter Two will present a literature review of the previous works related to the three technologies mentioned above. Chapter Three will present the proposed framework, first from a networking point of view and then from a security and blockchain point of view. Chapter Four will present how the proposed framework fits into the three types of blockchains related to 5G. Lastly, Chapter Five will present the conclusion and Chapter Six will present the future work related to the merger of the three technologies.

Chapter 2꞉ Literature review

2. Literature Review

 Chapter 3: Proposed framework

Low latency and low throughput related to PoW are due to the fact there is a need for permission to access data within the blocks (shared ledger). A block must resolve a computational problem based on the previous data that was contained within all the previous blocks in the network. This means that the bigger the number of devices or blocks the more complex and power-consuming the calculation will be.

For example, in a smart grid where there are millions of devices interacting with one another and there is a need for low latency, PoW will hinder the functions of smart grid devices because the millions of devices will need enough computational power to do the calculation and those which do not have it will fall behind and bring low latency in the delivery of services. To prevent this from occurring there is a need to modify the PoW consensus and the network itself.

  1. Independent cells will be created based on the minimum number of IoT devices to which PoW can work with high enough latency. Each cell will contain blocks made out of the IoT devices which will be responsible for the creation of the hash-based answer based on the information contained within them. Note that the one to resolve the problem is the one that wants to access the data within the blocks in the cell.
  2. Because there is a need for a connection among the millions of devices of, for example, a smart grid-like network, another device powerful enough to handle 5G speed of information sharing will be placed in each of the cells. This device will be called a managing device or MD. It will be responsible for connecting cells between them. This device will have a real-time record of the amount of information that is being processed within the cell and will make sure that the number of transactions does not go beyond a certain threshold which may cause low latency.
  3. The MD does not do any calculations; that is the job of the other devices in the blocks. The MDs will know the status of each different cell in the network (green for available and red for unavailable). If the cell that is required is unavailable, then the transactions will be redirected to the nearest available cell by the MD. Note that the MD will always be aware of the information needed to solve the computational problem of the cell to which it is sending the transaction. Devices can make requests within their cells and go out if and only if the cell has become red. The MD will then send the device to the nearest green cell and the MD will make sure to provide the device or block with enough information to allow it to resolve the PoW of the cell to which it is being sent. (MDs communicate between themselves and can allow a device to pass any PoW test).
  4. Only recognized devices will be allowed in a cell. All the physical addresses of the devices will be recorded and stored in the MDs. If the MDs are bypassed by an unknown device, then it will not be able to resolve the computational problem of the target cell and will be kicked out after 3 failed attempts. Data will remain secure.
  5. Any device that is new in a cell (from another cell or third party allowed device) will not participate in the PoW computational calculation even though it will be allowed in the blockchain. Third party devices will be removed as soon as the transaction is done (the information will still be recorded in the blocks in the current cells). For the devices within the network, the device will go back to its cell after finishing what it needed and of course, while it is gone it will not participate in the calculation of its cell.
  6.  Cells are built based on the proximity of devices. Each cell will have enough devices to do the required job of the technology in question but on a smaller scale. Once chosen, the device cannot be moved to another cell.

Let take smart watches for example. One thousand smartwatches are the limit of one cell and these watches will be registered to the physical location of the nearest and available cell. So even if the owner of the watch moves far away from his cells and can still access 5G connectivity, then transactions will still be redirected to their original cell. Note that other devices are also needed to make a cell operational just enough to respect the need of the business and an MD will also be added.

Our framework modifies the PoW consensus; not all the blocks will participate in the calculation (see point e).

A new device called an MD, powerful enough to support 5G speed, will be added to each cell to measure the latency threshold and connect the different cells, allowing devices in and sending devices out to other cells. It will also have firewall software to secure access to the cells. The figure below depicts how devices will communicate in the network. For n+1 to access the resources of cell 2 it must pass through MD1 first, then MD2 and connect itself to the blocks, and vice versa. Although connected, n+1 will be considered a stranger to the cell and will not participate in the computational calculation of the PoW. For the transactions it came for, it will need to resolve the problem with the help of MD1 and MD2.

 CHAPTER 4: CONCLUSION  

IoT devices have revolutionized the internet and the web as we know it and, have made people’s everyday lives easier. Security is one of the major flaws that face IoT devices and multiple effects can be carried based on the different layers of IoT device architecture (sensing layer, network layer, middle ware layer, application layer). Blockchain is the solution now and in the future when it comes to securing IoT applications against adversaries. However, the merger of the two technologies presents difficulties that can affect the very purpose of IoT devices.The framework proposed in this work merges the two technologies and also adds 5G technology due to its speed and the number of devices it can connect all over the world. From the network perspective, the framework has different cells. Those cells work independently and have their shared ledger. A monitoring device that can be considered as a server will be placed in each cell and will be the only point of communication between cells. The monitoring device will ensure security at the middleware and application layer with the different security applications installed on it (antiviruses, firewalls).From the Blockchain perspective, the monitoring device allows devices that require low latency to work properly and resolve the problem of low throughput and growing computational power melded to the PoW mechanism. The monitoring device will be able to give direct access to the shared ledger to a device within a cell, if and only if it detects a delay significant enough to cause high latency. The blocks and the computation problem will not be affected in this situation. With 5G and its speed, the monitoring device’s response will be swift enough to respond to the demands of different devices within the cell.The cell part of the framework allows IoT devices to be free from the issues integral in the PoW mechanism. It allows the devices to work quickly and be more reliable. The fact that each cell has its monitoring device allows the network to be more robust and resistant to failures and device malfunctions. In effect, even if a monitoring device fails, the cell can continue working without it; only the option to directly access the shared ledger will be impacted.IoT devices, 5G, and Blockchain are the solution for the future of any device connected to the internet and when merged, the most important aspect is to not affect the originality of each of the three. 


CHAPTER 5: FUTURE WORKs

Placing servers in all the cells is not an easy thing to do, in terms of money and cost-efficiency. The servers are not cheap and software to ensure the security of each cell makes the cost to build a whole network extremely expensive.In the future, the cell framework will be insured by the devices alone and no monitoring devices will be needed. IoT devices within a cell should be able to detect devices that present significant delays and allow them to access the shared ledger without resolving the PoW mathematical question. Security measures should be taken seriously in case any malicious node appears and wants to disrupt the cell.  With this future framework, there will not be any point of failure that can impact the network or cell, and if a device malfunctions, it can just be isolated and the other devices can continue the work in private and public and consortium blockchain can be applied to the framework at the preference of the network designer, instead of only having the choice of consortium Blockchain.In the future, we will see IoT devices used globally in everyday life and those devices should be secure, fast, and intelligent. The security of the IoT devices can be ensured through technologies such as Blockchain and other security purpose technologies. The speed part will be handled by the likes of 5G technologies.The intelligence part is more pertinent, especially for the edge devices at the sensing layer. Those devices, being the most vulnerable, should have a type of artificial intelligence robust enough to handle almost every situation. Through semi-supervised learning, those devices can be trained for different situations.Consortium Blockchain is the 5G type of Blockchain that will be preferred in the future for the framework because of the known entities that ensure the security of mainly the monitoring devices (servers) in each cell, as only known devices in the network can access a cell if it comes from the outside.

REFERENCES

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