NSF RINGS Grant Supports Communication Security Projects at NYU Tandon

NSF RINGS Grant Supports  Communication Security Projects at NYU Tandon

In the spring of 2022, NYU announced receipt of a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant covers the work of three teams of researchers at NYU Tandon, including CCS affiliated faculty Dr. Ramesh Karri and Dr. Siddharth Garg. According to an NYU Research Brief released when the grant was announced (see https://engineering.nyu.edu/news/three-nyu-tandon-teams-win-25-million-nsf-partnership-ensure-resiliency-part-next-g-wireless),  the overall goal of the initiative is to make “current and future wireless infrastructure, software and hardware systems more resilient to flaws, accidents, subterfuge and hacks.” 

Projects funded under the grant include research on building resilient and secure NextG wireless systems from potentially unsecure hardware components. As explained in the NSF grant (see https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2148293&HistoricalAwards=false),  the project “focuses on a particularly important class of attacks called hardware Trojans, where hardware components supplied by a third party are maliciously altered to launch an attack from within a network node, such as a cellular base station.”

The proposed solution to this threat includes:

Development of  “computationally efficient methods to detect the presence of hardware Trojans in both the baseband and RF” 

Estimation of “the capacity of undetected hardware attacks” which can enable “a critical optimization of the power and computation on hardware verification and potential throughput degradation”

Extension of these methods to network settings, including jamming and multi-user attacks. 

Development of “a novel and powerful evaluation platform to experiment with hardware security methods in both the baseband and RF in a high throughput millimeter wave software defined radio.”

One interesting new wrinkle to the RINGS initiative at Tandon is that the defenses generated through the research were to be evaluated by participants in the 2022 CSAW Embedded Security Challenge (see https://www.csaw.io/esc).

Funding for the program comes from NSF’s Resilient and Intelligent Next Generation Systems (RINGS) program (https://new.nsf.gov/funding/opportunities/resilient-intelligent-nextg-systems-rings),  which is dedicated to initiatives that “accelerate research in areas that will potentially have significant impact on emerging Next Generation (NextG) wireless and mobile communication, networking, sensing, and computing systems, along with global-scale services, with a focus on greatly improving the resiliency of such networked systems among other performance metrics.”