Projects on IP addresses, auroral spiral win 2011 GSA awards

April 8, 2011 Two ECE students won awards at this year's Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) Research Symposium: Matthew Dunlop won a first place award for his poster presentation titled "Dynamic Obscuration of IPv6 Addresses to Achieve a Moving Target Defense," and Nathaniel Frissell won a second place award for his poster presentation titled "Characteristic Energies in an Auroral Spiral."

Dynamic Obscuration of IPv6 Addresses to Achieve a Moving Target Defense

MT6D test network

Prototype MT6D test network

Dunlop and other researchers in the Information Technology Security Office and Laboratory have developed a more secure method for assigning Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) addresses. This method, "rotates through dynamically obscured network addresses while maintaining existing connections," explains Dunlop. "Static addresses are easy targets for address tracking and network attacks."

IPv6, which is expected to become the new standard internet protocol, allows many more unique addresses than the current Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), and allows users to autoconfigure these addresses. If static identifiers are used, this "provides third parties with the ability to track a node's physical location, correlate network traffic with a specific user, and collect details about a node's operating system," says Dunlop. Their dynamic solution, however, "provides a powerful moving target solution that preserves both users' privacy and security."

Characteristic Energies in an Auroral Spiral

Image of a green aurora

Auroral spiral

Frissell, who works in the Virginia Tech SuperDARN Laboratory, is studying the characteristic energies of auroral spirals. "The aurora is an optical signature of energy transfer processes between space and the earth's upper atmosphere," explains Frissell. "Auroral spirals are dynamical vortex structures with diameters that range from tens to hundreds of kilometers which form from a twisting of the auroral arc." Using optical instrumentation and ground magnetometers, Frissell and his fellow researchers analyzed an auroral spiral that they observed from Longyearbyen, Svalbard (an archipelago north of the Arctic Circle) in February 2010.


Arctic Blast – Read more about Nathaniel Frissell’s trip to Svalbard in this article from the 2010 ECE Annual Report.