Date :  Friday, March 28, 2014
Time :  1:00 - 2:00
Location :  Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 5117 

Securing Wireless Networks by Exploiting Physical Layer Characteristics

Professor Kai Zeng
Department of Computer and Information Science
University of Michigan - Dearborn,

With the rapid advancement of communication and networking technologies, ubiquitous 
wireless network access and connection has become reality. Due to the "open air" nature 
of the wireless medium, the resource constraints of the wireless devices, and distributed 
nature of wireless networks, ensuring wireless network security faces great challenges. 

During the past decades, securing wireless networks has been mainly considered at 
higher layers using various cryptographic techniques. However, cryptographic mechanisms
are not always applicable or preferred in wireless networks. For example, bootstrapping 
secure association between communication parties requires user authentication but it 
cannot be solved solely by cryptographic means due to the lack of pre-shared secrets. In 
emerging wireless networks, such as cognitive radio networks, the primary users shall be 
identified at the signal level without relying on higher-layer cryptographic means. 
Furthermore, cryptography is usually considered expensive for resource constrained 
devices, such as sensors and RFIDs.

In light of these circumstances, there has been an increasing interest in enhancing or 
supplementing traditional cryptography-based security mechanisms in wireless networks 
by exploiting various physical layer characteristics. Different from traditional 
computational-security mechanisms, physical layer security is based on the physical 
principles of wireless channels and devices, thus provides a fundamentally different 
approach to secure wireless networks and adds another level of protection at the physical 
layer. It can be widely applied in various wireless networks for providing different security 
services. It has great potential to simplify or avoid complex cryptographic computation and 
achieve information-theoretical security.

This talk provides an overview of various techniques for securing wireless networks by 
exploiting physical layer characteristics. Our recent works on bootstrapping secure association 
between nearby devices, generating shared secret keys from wireless channels, and 
detecting identity based attacks in wireless networks will be presented. Future directions in 
the physical layer security area and its applications will also be discussed.

Dr. Kai Zeng is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Computer and 
Information Science at University of Michigan - Dearborn. Before that, he was a postdoctoral 
scholar in the Department of Computer Science at University of California, Davis (UCD) from 
2008 to 2011. He earned his Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering at Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 2008. He obtained bachelor degree in Communication 
Engineering and master degree in communication and Information System both from 
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, in 2001 and 2004, respectively. He was 
a recipient of NSF CAREER Award in 2012. He won Sigma Xi Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation 
Award at WPI in 2008 and Excellence in Postdoctoral Research Award at UCD in 2011. He has 
broad interests in cyber security and wireless networking with emphasis on physical layer 
security, cyber physical systems, network and digital forensics, and cognitive radio and mobile 
network security and privacy. 

**Point of contact:  Prof Sushil Jajodia [log in to unmask]