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A Novel Approach for Physical Layer Cryptography in Wireless Networks


Due to the enormous spreading of applied wireless networks, security is actually one of the most important issues for telecommunications. One of the main issue in the field of securing wireless information exchanging is the initial common knowledge between source and destination. A shared secret is normally mandatory in order to decide the encryption (algorithm or code or key) of the information stream. It is usual to exchange this common a priori knowledge by using a “secure” channel. Nowadays a secure wireless channel is not possible. In fact normally the common a priori knowledge is already established (but this is not secure) or by using a non-radio channel (that implies a waste of time and resource). The information is encrypted by means of a private key that must be known by both the transmitter and the receiver. One of the main weak point about security is the private key exchanging interval. The key cannot be public and cannot be known a priori. The problem is how to exchange this private key through a totally secure wireless channel. This contribution deals with the review of the main physical layer techniques for encrypting the information and the proposal of a new physical layer technique ensuring secure communication in a full wireless environment. The information is modulated, at physical layer, by the thermal noise experienced by the link between two terminals. A loop scheme is designed for unique recovering of mutual information. The probability of error/detection is analytically derived for the legal users and for the third unwanted listener (passive or active attacker). Both the case of passive and active attacks have also been implemented and simulated by using Matlab-Simulink software. The analytical results have been compared to the simulated ones. All the results show that the performance of the proposed scheme yields the advantage of intrinsic security, i.e., the mutual information cannot be physically demodulated (passive attack) or denied (active attack) by a third terminal.

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Correspondence to L. Mucchi.

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Mucchi, L., Ronga, L.S. & Del Re, E. A Novel Approach for Physical Layer Cryptography in Wireless Networks. Wireless Pers Commun 53, 329–347 (2010).

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  • Physical layer security
  • Modulation
  • Key exchange
  • Cryptography
  • Noise loop
  • Wireless communications