Drexel Faculty Receive Grant to Investigate Security Challenges in Philadelphia’s Wireless Network


August 31, 2012 — Steven Weber (ECE), Harish Sethu (ECE), Kapil Dandekar (ECE), and Spiros Mancoridis (CS) have received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project, “Medium: Securing the Wireless Philadelphia Network.”

This project uses the Wireless Philadelphia Network (WPN) as a testbed to investigate three diverse security challenges facing any large-scale wireless network servicing a heterogeneous population. The network is a metropolitan–area network (MAN) consisting of thousands of Tropos 5210 wireless mesh routers distributed across the entire city of Philadelphia and connected by a fiber backbone.

The first challenge is in efficient network anomaly detection algorithms, and the proposed solution is to investigate the efficacy of both compressive sampling and distributed source coding based approaches in reducing the amount of data that must be transmitted to the anomaly detector. The second challenge is physical layer security in wireless networks, and the proposed solution is to use physical layer based encryption algorithms and user authentication. The third challenge is anomaly detection at the application layer, in particular for web servers, and the proposed solution is to develop software sensors on the hardware, operating system, virtual machine, and application server, and develop rules for identifying possible anomalies using these metrics.

The amount of the grant is $1,080,445, with the Department of Computer Science receiving $270,111.