Visible to the public EAGER: Towards Securing Visible Light CommunicationsConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details

Lead PI

Performance Period

Sep 01, 2017 - Aug 31, 2019


Auburn University

Award Number

Due to its many nice features such as license-free spectrum, abundant bandwidth, and Gbps-level transmission rate, visible light communication (VLC) has been considered to be a promising small-cell solution for alleviating the RF spectrum scarcity problem in the 5G era. While the research on VLC devices has made significant progress in recent years, the security aspect of VLC has not been well understood so far. Contrary to the initial common belief that VLC is intrinsically secure because the propagation of visible light is directive and can be confined within a closed space, recent studies have revealed that VLC is vulnerable to eavesdroppers that are outside of the direct beam of the light, or even outside the closed space and do not have direct line-of-sight (LOS) to the light source. Moreover, the special optical nature of visible light propagation also subjects VLC to other unique types of attacks, such as LOS blocking and spoofing. These attacks will constitute serious threats to VLC systems when they are deployed in large scale in the near future. This EAGER project aims to obtain a comprehensive and urgently-needed understanding on the security vulnerabilities of VLC, and to explore new knowledge on rigid and provably-secure physical-layer countermeasures. This project will investigate the capability of visible light Multiple Input-Multiple Output (MIMO) in combatting VLC-specific attacks. In particular, a friendly-jamming-assisted visible light MIMO beamforming architecture is proposed to counter eavesdropping from unknown eavesdroppers, i.e., eavesdroppers of an unknown number and at unknown locations. This architecture is then extended by using more photodiodes (PDs) per user and accounting for the change of VLC channel state information, to effectively detect and mitigate blocking and spoofing attacks. The investigator will further study the blocking-resilience capacity of the multi-user VLC MIMO system to provide differential protection for users of different priorities. Moreover, a MIMO VLC testbed will be developed to evaluate the performance of the proposed solutions. The project will also carry out an integrated education plan to broaden its impact to the society, with a special emphasis on underrepresented and minority groups.