The challenges facing physical layer security

There has recently been significant interest in applying the principles of information-theoretical security and signal processing to secure physical layer systems. Although the community has made progress in understanding how the physical layer can support confidentiality and authentication, it is important to realize that there are many important issues that must be addressed if physical layer security is ever to be adopted by real and practical security systems.

In this article, I briefly review several different flavors of physical layer security (at least for wireless systems), and then identify aspects (a.k.a. weaknesses) where the foundation for physical layer security needs to be strengthened. I then highlight that the opportunities for applying physical layer security to real systems will be quite rich if the community can overcome these challenges. In the course of the article, I note new directions for the community to investigate, with the objective of keeping physical layer security research targeted at having a practical impact on real systems.

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