Jonathan Ponniah: A System-Theoretic Clean Slate Approach to Provably Secure Ad Hoc

Friday, December 13, 2013 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
32-D463 (Star)
Jonathan Ponniah
Jonathan Ponniah is currently a post-doc at Texas A&M. He completed his doctorate in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his undergraduate and masters studies at the University of Waterloo, Canada. His research interests are in distributed systems, wireless security, network optimization, and network information theory.

Traditionally, wireless network protocols have been designed for performance. Subsequently, as attacks have been identified, patches have been developed. This has resulted in an “arm’s race” development process of discovering vulnerabilities and then patching them. The fundamental difficulty with this approach is that other vulnerabilities may still exist. No provable security or performance guarantees can ever be provided.

We develop a system-theoretic approach to security that provides a complete protocol suite with provable guarantees, as well as proof of min-max optimality with respect to any given utility function of source-destination rates. Our approach is based on a model capturing the essential features of an ad-hoc wireless network that has been infiltrated with hostile nodes. We consider any collection of nodes, some good and some bad, possessing specified capabilities vis-à-vis cryptography, wireless communication and clocks. The good nodes do not know the bad nodes. The bad nodes can collaborate perfectly and can execute any byzantine attack.

The protocol suite caters to the complete lifecycle, all the way from birth of nodes, through all phases of ad hoc network formulation, leading to an optimized network carrying data reliably. It provably achieves the min-max of the utility function, where the max is over all protocol suites published and followed by the good nodes, while the min is over all byzantine behaviors of the bad nodes. Under the protocol suite, the bad nodes do not benefit from any actions other than jamming or cooperating.