ZTE Communications ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (4): 41-51.DOI: 10.12142/ZTECOM.202204006

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Physical Layer Security for MmWave Communications: Challenges and Solutions

HE Miao, LI Xiangman, NI Jianbing()   

  1. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada
  • Received:2022-09-11 Online:2022-12-30 Published:2022-12-30
  • About author:HE Miao received his BE degree from Zhejiang University, China and MASc degree from the University of Waterloo, Canada, respectively. He is currently pursuing his PhD degree with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Queen’s University, Canada. His research interests include signal processing, applied cryptography and information security, with current focus on beamforming using large antenna arrays and physical layer security in millimeter-wave wireless communications.|LI Xiangman received her BE degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Queen’s University, Canada. She is currently pursuing the MASc degree with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Queen’s University. Her research interests include machine learning security, secure data trading, and Blockchain Technology.|NI Jianbing (jianbing.ni@queensu.ca) is currently an assistant professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a member of the Ingenuity Labs Research Institute, Queen’s University, Canada. He received his PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering from University of Waterloo, Canada in 2018. His research interests are applied cryptography, wireless and mobile network security, edge computing security, machine learning security, and blockchain technology. He received the Best Paper Awards from IEEE MASS 2018, IEEE ICC 2018, IEEE GLOBECOM 2017, EAI SECURECOMM 2016, etc., and the Best Paper Award from IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. He is serving as the associate editor of IEEE Systems Journal and ACM Distributed Ledger Technologies: Research and Practice.


The mmWave communication is a promising technique to enable human commutation and a large number of machine-type communications of massive data from various non-cellphone devices like Internet of Things (IoT) devices, autonomous vehicles and remotely controlled robots. For this reason, information security, in terms of the confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA), becomes more important in the mmWave communication than ever since. The physical layer security (PLS), which is based on the information theory and focuses on the secrecy capacity of the wiretap channel model, is a cost effective and scalable technique to protect the CIA, compared with the traditional cryptographic techniques. In this paper, the theory foundation of PLS is briefly introduced together with the typical PLS performance metrics secrecy rate and outage probability. Then, the most typical PLS techniques for mmWave are introduced, analyzed and compared, which are classified into three major categories of directional modulation (DM), artificial noise (AN), and directional precoding (DPC). Finally, several mmWave PLS research problems are briefly discussed, including the low-complexity DM weight vector codebook construction, impact of phase shifter (PS) with finite precision on PLS, and DM-based communications for multiple target receivers.

Key words: mmWave communication, physical layer security, phased array, directional modulation