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Design and Identification of Wireless Transmitters for a Low-power and Secure Internet of Things
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology, Computer Architecture and Computer Communication. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology, Division of Computer Systems.
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

Wireless communication is a key enabler for connecting billions of Internet of Things devices. For networked embedded devices operating on limited energy resources, wireless communication dominates the power consumption. Moreover, as networked devices increasingly handle sensitive data, security concerns in wireless communication are continuously expanding. This dissertation develops novel solutions for low-power and secure wireless communication. 

Wireless transmitters consist of a series of steps, involving both analog and digital components, each playing a distinct role in the transmit chain. Conventional transmitters employ power-hungry analog components, leading to power consumption on the order of milliwatt. Backscatter transmitters significantly reduce communication power consumption to levels well below one milliwatt. This remarkable power efficiency is achieved by offloading power-hungry components to an external carrier emitter. However, backscatter transmitters encounter challenges in applications that demand medium to long communication range, because they rely heavily on powerful emitters in their proximity for an effective communication range. Instead of removing power-hungry components, our solution integrates the functions of these components into a low-power design. While still requiring an emitter, our transmitter does not reflect the carrier signal. Instead, we utilize a weak carrier signal to stabilize the transmitter, allowing a communication range of over one hundred meters even when the emitter is far away. This contribution takes a step forward in moving low-power communication beyond backscatter.

Passive radiometric fingerprinting leverages imperfections of hardware components to identify and authenticate transmitters. Its passive nature fits well to secure low-power transmitters operating within constrained resources. To enhance the viability of radiometric fingerprinting, we make three contributions in this dissertation to facilitate its widespread deployment. First, compared to conventional radios, low-power backscatter communication has a fundamentally different composition of hardware components in its transmit chain. In our work, we decompose fingerprints in a backscatter system for dual identification of tags and emitters. Beyond security purposes, recognizing the emitter embeds a notion of locality, enabling fingerprinting usage in backscatter network management tasks such as emitter coordination. Second, the dynamic nature of real-world wireless channels significantly impacts the robustness of fingerprinting. We decompose channel impacts and develop a hybrid system. This system employs pertinent strategies for different channel factors, ensuring reliable performance across complex wireless conditions. Lastly, based on the understanding of components' contributions to the transmit chain, we design a lightweight fingerprinting system. We demonstrate a complete implementation seamlessly integrated within the constraints of a single low-cost off-the-shelf chip. This contribution simplifies the conventionally bulky setup using sophisticated signal acquisition equipment and dedicated computer processing resources, which facilitates the practical deployment of fingerprinting on low-cost embedded devices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2023. , p. 75
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 2341
Keywords [en]
Wireless transmitters, Wireless embedded systems, Physical-layer security, Radiometric fingerprinting, Radio frequency fingerprinting, Identification, Authentication, Backscatter communication, Internet of Things
National Category
Communication Systems Telecommunications Embedded Systems
Research subject
Electrical Engineering with Specialisation in Networked Embedded Systems; Computer Science with specialization in Computer Communication
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-515943ISBN: 978-91-513-1973-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-515943DiVA, id: diva2:1813461
Public defence
2024-01-16, 101121, Sonja Lyttkens, Ångström, Regementsvägen 1, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-12-11 Created: 2023-11-21 Last updated: 2023-12-11
List of papers
1. Judo: Addressing the Energy Asymmetry of Wireless Embedded Systems Through Tunnel Diode based Wireless Transmitters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Judo: Addressing the Energy Asymmetry of Wireless Embedded Systems Through Tunnel Diode based Wireless Transmitters
2022 (English)In: MobiSys '22: Proceedings of the 20th Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services, New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2022, p. 273-286Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The radio transmitter is the most power-consuming component of a wireless embedded system. We present Judo, a radio transmitter that enables power balance between the wireless transmission, sensing, and processing tasks of a wireless embedded system. Judo transmitters leverage the fact that modern radio transceivers offer high receive sensitivity at low power. Therefore, even if the radio transmitter emits a weak signal, the link budget and transmission range will often remain high. With this key insight, we revisit the radio transmitter architecture by dramatically reducing the radiated power and hence the overall power draws. Specifically, Judo transmitter uses a tunnel diode oscillator to integrate the stages of a radio transmitter into a single energy-efficient step. In this step, baseband signals are generated and mixed using peak power below 100 μW. However, we sacrifice stability of tunnel diode oscillator for low-power consumption. We use the injection-locking phenomenon to stabilise the tunnel diode oscillator with an external carrier signal. Based on this novel architecture, we implement a transmitter that supports frequency-shift keying as a modulation scheme. Judo transmits over distances greater than 100 m at a bit rate of 100 kbps. It does so with an emitter device providing the carrier signal, and located at a distance of more than 100 m from Judo transmitter. In terms of critical link metrics, it outperforms the radio transmitters commonly used in wireless embedded systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2022
Keywords
Backscatter communication, Wireless transmitters, Wireless embedded systems, Internet of Things, Tunnel diodes
National Category
Communication Systems Telecommunications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488883 (URN)10.1145/3498361.3538923 (DOI)9781450391856 (ISBN)
Conference
The 20th Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services (MobiSys ’22), June 25-July 1, 2022, Portland, OR, USA.
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018-05480
Available from: 2022-11-24 Created: 2022-11-24 Last updated: 2023-11-21Bibliographically approved
2. TunnelLiFi: Bringing LiFi to Commodity Internet of Things Devices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>TunnelLiFi: Bringing LiFi to Commodity Internet of Things Devices
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2023 (English)In: HotMobile '23: Proceedings of the 24th International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications, New York, NY, USA: ACM Digital Library, 2023, p. 1-7Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

LiFi, light-fidelity, is a wireless technology that uses visible light for data transmission. It has several advantages, such as using a different part of electromagnetic spectrum than radio communication and providing enhanced privacy because light transmission is blocked by walls. Internet of Things applications with low-to-moderate data rates represent a promising arena for LiFi adoption. However, it is difficult to bring LiFi to IoT devices for several reasons, including some of LiFi's strengths. We present TunnelLiFi, a new receiver architecture that acts like a bridge between the light and radio spectrums. A key aspect of TunnelLiFi's design is the use of the unique self-oscillating mixing property of the tunnel diode oscillator, which enables the mixing of a photodiode signal with a locally generated radio frequency carrier signal while drawing under 100 μW of power consumption. In our experiments, Tunnel-LiFi demonstrates the ability to replicate the information contained in light signals onto radio signals at tens of microwatts, even in low-light conditions (300 lux) and at low bitrates (2.93 Kbps). We also show the potential of TunnelLiFi to support high bitrates. TunnelLiFi opens up new possibilities for LiFi technology by enabling communication in areas where light propagation is challenging. It also allows commodity IoT devices to receive LiFi transmissions using their existing transceivers, thus expanding the reach of LiFi.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, NY, USA: ACM Digital Library, 2023
National Category
Computer Engineering Communication Systems
Research subject
Electrical Engineering with Specialisation in Networked Embedded Systems; Computer Science with specialization in Embedded Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-509605 (URN)979-8-4007-0017-0 (ISBN)
Conference
HotMobile '23: Proceedings of the 24th International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018-05480Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, RIT17-0020
Available from: 2023-08-21 Created: 2023-08-21 Last updated: 2023-11-21
3. PHY-IDS: a physical-layer spoofing attack detection system for wearable devices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>PHY-IDS: a physical-layer spoofing attack detection system for wearable devices
2020 (English)In: WearSys '20: Proceedings of the 6th ACM Workshop on Wearable Systems and Applications / [ed] Vu Tran, Ashwin Ashok, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2020Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In modern connected healthcare applications, wearable devices supporting real-time monitoring and diagnosis have become mainstream. However, wearable systems are exposed to massive cyberattacks that threaten not only data security but also human safety and life. One of the fundamental security threats is device impersonation. We, therefore, propose \name; a lightweight real-time detection system that captures spoofing attacks leveraging on body motions. Our system utilizes time series of physical layer features and builds on the fact that it is non-trivial to inject malicious frames that are indistinguishable from legitimate ones. With the help of statistical learning, our system characterizes the signal behavior and flags deviations as anomalies. We experimentally evaluate \name's performance using bodyworn devices in real attack scenarios. For four types of attackers with increasing knowledge of the deployed detection system, the results show that \name detects naive attackers with high accuracy above 99.8\% and maintains good accuracy for stronger attackers at a range from 81.0\% to 98.9\%.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2020
Keywords
Physical-layer Security, Spoofing attacks, Wearables, Machine learning, Time series analysis
National Category
Communication Systems
Research subject
Computer Science with specialization in Computer Communication
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-427156 (URN)10.1145/3396870.3400010 (DOI)978-1-4503-8013-3 (ISBN)
Conference
MobiSys '20: The 18th Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June, 2020
Projects
RIT17-0020_SSF / LifeSec: Hacka inte min kropp!
Funder
Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
Available from: 2020-12-03 Created: 2020-12-03 Last updated: 2023-11-21Bibliographically approved
4. RRF: A Robust Radiometric Fingerprint System that Embraces Wireless Channel Diversity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>RRF: A Robust Radiometric Fingerprint System that Embraces Wireless Channel Diversity
2022 (English)In: WiSec '22: Proceedings of the 15th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2022, p. 85-97Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Radiometric fingerprint schemes have been shown effective in identifying wireless devices based on imperfections in their hardware electronics. The robustness of fingerprint systems under complex channel conditions, however, is a critical challenge that makes their application in real-world scenarios difficult. We systematically evaluate the wireless channel's impact on radiometric fingerprints and find that the channel impacts fingerprint features in a very particular way that depends on the channel's properties. Based on the insights, we present RRF, a system that provides a robust identification/authentication service even under complex channel fading disturbance. Our design deploys a hybrid architecture that combines wireless channel simulation, signal processing and machine learning. In this pipeline, RRF first utilizes a series of structured channel simulations to strategically improve system tolerance towards multipath channel interference. On top of that, in the identification phase, RRF relies on noise compensation and a feature denoising filter to augment the system's stability in noisy conditions with weak signals. Our experimental results show that RRF achieves an average accuracy consistently above 99% in empirical scenarios with complex channels, where the baseline approach from previous work rarely exceeds 50%.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2022
Keywords
Physical-layer security, Radio frequency fingerprint, Identification, Authentication
National Category
Communication Systems Telecommunications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488880 (URN)10.1145/3507657.3528542 (DOI)000927874700012 ()9781450392167 (ISBN)
Conference
WiSec'22: 15th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, May 16–19, 2022, San Antonio, TX, USA.
Funder
Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, RIT17-0020Swedish Research Council, 2018-05480
Available from: 2022-11-24 Created: 2022-11-24 Last updated: 2023-11-21Bibliographically approved
5. Decomposing Radiometric Fingerprints in Backscatter Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Decomposing Radiometric Fingerprints in Backscatter Systems
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Radiometric fingerprinting is an effective technique for identifying and authenticating wireless devices by leveraging unique imperfections in transmitter electronics. This approach fits well with the low-power and low-complexity philosophy of backscatter systems because their purely passive nature requires no extra resources. Backscatter systems delegate the power-intensive generation of the carrier to an external emitter device and modulate the data by reflecting carrier signals at a low-power tag. In this paper, we systematically analyze the backscatter architecture and decompose the fingerprint, allowing us to accurately distinguish and classify both tags and carrier emitters with a true accept ratio of over 98.4\% and below 1.6\% false accept ratio. Compared to conventional radio transmitters, backscatter fingerprinting presents a greater challenge due to the emitter-tag separation with a simple architecture. To offer a deeper understanding, we assess the importance of features in conjunction with three additional groups of conventional devices. In addition, we seek insights into fingerprint stability due to the voltage variation, which indicates that different from conventional wisdom, the tag fingerprint is susceptible to voltage variations. We also discuss possible system design strategies to improve the tag fingerprinting stability.

Keywords
Physical-layer security, Radio frequency fingerprint, Identification, Authentication
National Category
Communication Systems Telecommunications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-515941 (URN)
Available from: 2023-11-15 Created: 2023-11-15 Last updated: 2023-11-21
6. ORF: Towards On-board Radiometric Fingerprinting Fully Integrated on an Embedded System
Open this publication in new window or tab >>ORF: Towards On-board Radiometric Fingerprinting Fully Integrated on an Embedded System
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Radiometric fingerprinting systems leverage unique physical-layer signal characteristics originating from individual hardware imperfections to identify transmitter devices. The pure passive nature of such mechanisms entirely relieves the overhead of identification and authentication operations from the end devices, which fits well with resource-constrained applications such as wireless sensor networks. However, existing systems are limited by the need for specialized hardware and non-trivial computations to extract fingerprinting features, hindering their pervasive deployment. For the first time, we ask the question whether it is feasible to implement an entire radiometric fingerprinting system on a low-cost and low-power embedded SoC. We introduce ORF, which demonstrates the feasibility of such a system on an embedded SoC that costs less than 6 dollars. Our experiments show that ORF achieves over 92% average accuracy on the task of identifying one out of 32 different transmitter devices.

Keywords
Physical-layer security, Radio frequency fingerprint, Identification, Authentication
National Category
Communication Systems Telecommunications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-515942 (URN)
Available from: 2023-11-15 Created: 2023-11-15 Last updated: 2023-11-21

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Yan, Wenqing

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