Classifications and Applications of Physical Layer Security Techniques for Confidentiality: A Comprehensive Survey

Hamamreh J. M., Furqan H. M., ARSLAN H.

IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials, vol.21, no.2, pp.1773-1828, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/comst.2018.2878035
  • Journal Name: IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1773-1828
  • Keywords: Physical layer security, cross-layer security, eavesdropping, channel secrecy codes, adaptation, interfering signals, artificial noise, jamming, secret keys, signal domains: time, frequency and space, VLC, BAN, PLC, IoT, smart grid, mm-Wave, cognitive radio, vehicular, UAV, UWB, D2D, RFID, index modulation, spatial modulation, 5G systems, OFDM, MIMO, Relay, NOMA, full-duplex, TDD
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Physical layer security (PLS) has emerged as a new concept and powerful alternative that can complement and may even replace encryption-based approaches, which entail many hurdles and practical problems for future wireless systems. The basic idea of PLS is to exploit the characteristics of the wireless channel and its impairments including noise, fading, interference, dispersion, diversity, etc. in order to ensure the ability of the intended user to successfully perform data decoding while preventing eavesdroppers from doing so. Thus, the main design goal of PLS is to increase the performance difference between the link of the legitimate receiver and that of the eavesdropper by using well-designed transmission schemes. In this survey, we propose a conceptual, generic, and expandable framework for classifying the existing PLS techniques against wireless passive eavesdropping. In this flexible framework, the security techniques that we comprehensively review in this treatise are divided into two primary approaches: signal-to-interference-plus-noise ratio-based approach and complexity-based approach. The first approach is classified into three major categories: first, secrecy channel codes-based schemes; second, security techniques based on channel adaptation; third, schemes based on injecting interfering artificial (noise/jamming) signals along with the transmitted information signals. The second approach (complexity-based), which is associated with the mechanisms of extracting secret sequences from the shared channel, is classified into two main categories based on which layer the secret sequence obtained by channel quantization is applied on. The techniques belonging to each one of these categories are divided and classified into three main signal domains: time, frequency and space. For each one of these domains, several examples are given and illustrated along with the review of the state-of-the-art security advances in each domain. Moreover, the advantages and disadvantages of each approach alongside the lessons learned from existing research works are stated and discussed. The recent applications of PLS techniques to different emerging communication systems such as visible light communication, body area network, power line communication, Internet of Things, smart grid, mm-Wave, cognitive radio, vehicular ad-hoc network, unmanned aerial vehicle, ultra-wideband, device-to-device, radio-frequency identification, index modulation, and 5G non-orthogonal multiple access based-systems, are also reviewed and discussed. The paper is concluded with recommendations and future research directions for designing robust, efficient and strong security methods for current and future wireless systems.