In order to try and make military wireless networks more secure, Darpa has created the Wireless Network Defense program.
In military situations, confidential data that needs to reach those on the ground is now transmitted through technology, including smartphones and tablets. However, if wireless connectivity is compromised, it has the potential to change the combat environment and could impact on military strategy.
Naturally, it's not always the case that communications infrastructures in combat zones are trustworthy. So, deployed personnel not only have to provide access to the network, but they have to be the network -- and various nodes within a military system share data on how best to share resources including spectrum and power.
However, nodes within these systems currently "implicitly trust" security information, and so if a malicious attack takes place, the entire network can be rendered useless, which leaves those on the ground in a sticky spot.
To help address these problems, Darpa has created the "Wireless Network Defense" program. The program aims to develop new protocols that enable military wireless networks to stay operational despite "inadvertent misconfigurations or malicious compromise of individual nodes."
"Current security efforts focus on individual radios or nodes, rather than the network, so a single misconfigured or compromised radio could debilitate an entire network," said Wayne Phoel, DARPA program manager. "We need to change how we control wireless networks by developing a network-based solution for current and future systems that acknowledges there will be bad nodes and enables the network to operate around them."
A priority of the project is to develop protocols that will rate the trustworthiness of nodes and automatically adapt the network accordingly. In addition, similar to a neighborhood watch or fraud monitoring system used by banks, it is hoped that suspicious activity can be detected by the nodes.
Proposals are being accepted from April.
Image credit: Darpa