In this project, we consider the wireless network formed by home appliances such as TVs and refrigerators, as well as personal computing devices such as laptop computers, smart-phones and PDAs. It is desirable that 1) mutual authentication between any two devices can be achieved without any central authority, and 2) different devices are able to communicate securely with one another using only limited computing power.
Traditionally, mutual authentication and secure communication in general can be accomplished using public-key infrastructure (PKI) or Kerberos-like protocols. However, these approaches have some limitations. First, a centralized authority is often required throughout the lifetime of the network. Second, some parts of the protocols require relatively expensive computations and/or communications. These limitations make these approaches inappropriate for home networks, where the computing power and the bandwidth of the devices are usually limited, and there is typically no central authority.
Key predistribution schemes (KPS), on the other hand, provide many desirable features that are useful in home networks. In such schemes, each device is preloaded with some keys that allow authentication and key distribution to be done efficiently without requiring any central authority to be present at the time of communication. Moreover, key revocations are much easier for these schemes as compared to PKI.
The goal of this project is to build a key predistribution infrastructure (KPI) around such KPSs, and we aim to implement such an infrastructure on top of some popular protocols such as UPnP. Such an infrastructure would be useful for any communication among the devices in home networks, and would be especially useful to achieve certain types of digital rights management (DRM).
Mahalingam Ramkumar(Mississippi State University)
Some publications can be found here.