Wireless Security Improvement Using Physical Layer Properties

Primary Inventors: 

Sheng Xiao and  Weibo Gong, Ph.D.

Description: 

Novel Protocol for Wireless Security

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have developed a new information-theoretic-secure technology for wireless security that utilizes environmental randomness (true randomness) to generate the sharing secrecy. Every time there is a communication between two legitimate users, generation of the secret key is done using the previous interaction's secret key; this makes it impossible for a hacker to arrive at it.

To summarize, the new technology uses a novel technique to ensure that only valid users can communicate using a wireless connection. Unauthorized computers are excluded from all communications. The technology involves minor modifications in the physical layer and will work well along with WPA and WPA2 as an additional secure layer.

Applications: 

Necessity to improve Wireless Security

Wireless security breaches are a major concern for organizations and individuals that transmit sensitive data wirelessly. Current industry-standard systems, WPA and WPA2 rely on advanced algorithms and complex passwords to maintain security. Passwords are vulnerable to advanced computing techniques; users or security administrators are other likely points of failure. In addition, advancements in computing technology and novel reversal algorithms, some of which may not yet be public knowledge, could compromise current wireless security systems.

This invention may be best suited for manufacturers of wireless infrastructure who wish to introduce a new physical layer. Possible customers are clients such as government agencies who may require an unbreachable wireless network. Since this works at a basic level below WPA or WPA2, there need not be any concerns that this technology deviates from industry standards.

Advantages: 

Important Features:

  1. Testability: the actual system security level can be verified by measuring certain environmental parameters.
  2. Incorporates true randomness from the environment; this invention guards against future enhancements in computing technology and novel reversal algorithms.
  3. Low cost implementation with provable security: this is the first practical scheme that can be integrated within the wireless LAN. This invention could be prototyped within commercially available wireless LANs.
  4. Security enhanced over transmissions: this security scheme grows stronger with time. The eavesdropper's uncertainty about the shared secrecy between legitimate users would
    increase with transmissions.
Licensing Status: 
Available for Licensing and Sponsored Research
Patent Status: 
Docket: 
UMA 07-40 and UMA 08-42
For More Information: 

Michael Jaremchuk, Senior Licensing Officer
Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property
phone:413-577-6121
E-mail: jaremchuk@research.umass.edu