An ECE research team has been awarded a $400,000 Cyber Trust grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the security of software-defined radio (SDR) technology.
Although software radio technology promises to alleviate the spectrum shortage problem and improve spectrum utilization, it raises new security issues, according to Jung-Min Park, principal investigator, and co-principal investigators Jeffrey Reed, and Thomas Hou. “The software may be vulnerable to failure and malicious tampering,” Park said.
“Changes to conventional ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) devices requires technical skills and specialized equipment, which makes unauthorized changes very difficult,” he said. With SDR, user services or RF parameters can be reconfigured via the software. SDR research and standardization efforts focus on cryptosystems securing the download process and preventing tampering of downloaded software.
“That is the first line of defense,” Park said. “We are exploring other measures to secure SDR devices from malicious hackers and military opponents seeking tactical advantages.”
The team is investigation security vulnerabilities in the physical and MAC layers of SDR networks.
The contract is the second Cyber Trust effort involving ECE. Park and Michael Hsiao are working with Janine Hiller and France Belanger on a $450,000 to develop a prototype system for parents to use for ensuring their children’s online privacy.