A Multi-Layer Approach Towards Reliable Cognitive Radio Networks

Prof. Wade Trappe and Prof. Yanyong Zhang received a three-year NSF grant for the project “Collaborative Research: A Multi-Layer Approach Towards Reliable Cognitive Radio Networks”. The grant is a collaborative grant with Virginia Tech and the Rutgers portion is $285K.


The development of radio technologies that support efficient and reliable spectrum sharing is an enabler for utilizing the spectrum being made available through the National Broadband Plan. Software defined radios represent a promising technology that supports spectrum sharing as evidenced by the large amount of algorithms and protocols that allow for cognitive radio networks (CRNs) to be deployed. Unfortunately, the economic promise of dynamic spectrum access is easily undermined if cognitive radio users act dishonestly or maliciously, thereby subverting protocols that are founded on the cooperation of users. It is therefore important that mechanisms are developed that ensure the trustworthy operation of CRNs in the presence of potentially malicious or malfunctioning wireless nodes. The objective behind the project's research activities is to develop technological solutions that ensure that cognitive radios operate in trustworthy manner in spite of potential security threats. As a result of this research effort, it is possible for radio spectrum to be more reliably utilized, thereby ensuring that the economic opportunities associated with the radio spectrum are fairly utilized by everyone. The educational impact of the work comes from its multi-disciplinary foundation, broadening student views of wireless system design, and guiding the next generation of wireless engineer to include security and reliability in the design process.

Wireless technologies are an enabler for economic growth in the United States, and cognitive radio networks are an emerging form of wireless system that make spectrum access more available to the broader population. Unfortunately, cognitive radio systems are susceptible to threats that undermine the correct operation of their algorithms and protocols, and thus solutions that support the secure operation of cognitive radio networks are needed. This project ensures the trustworthy operation of cognitive radio networks by: 1) developing algorithms that ensure the correct operation of spectrum sensing procedures upon which spectrum access protocols rely; 2) developing traffic monitoring tools that identify improper communication activity by cognitive radio devices; and 3) developing new forms of interference-resistant communications that ensure that cognitive radio communication continues reliably in the face of interference. The research effort is inter-disciplinary, pulling from statistical tools to network traffic analysis to communications theory to support the secure operation of cognitive radio networks. The algorithms and protocols developed in this project are complemented by a systems prototyping and experimentation effort aimed at guaranteeing that the technologies developed are suitable for deployment in real wireless systems.