Method and Implementation for Wireless Message Authentication (ISR IP)

For more information, contact ISR External Relations Director
Jeff Coriale at or 301.405.6604.

ISR intellectual property available to license

Inventors: John Baras, Paul Yu, Brian Sadler

Most mechanisms of authentication (e.g., digital signatures and certificates) exist above the physical layer often with an additional cost in bandwidth. Researchers at the Department of Electrical and Computer engineering at the University of Maryland, College park, in collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory, have developed a new design framework for authentication at the physical layer where the authentication information is transmitted concurrently with data. By superimposing a carefully designed secret modulation on waveforms, authentication is added to the signal without requiring additional bandwidth. The authentication is designed to be stealthy to the uninformed user, robust to interference, and secure for identity verification. The new technique identifies and analyzes the tradeoffs between these three goals.

The new system provides a flexible framework for describing and analyzing a large family of authentication systems built over existing transmission systems. Considering the constraints associated with sending authentication information concurrently with data without requiring extra bandwidth or transmission power, energy is allocated away from the data signal to the authentication signal, thereby increasing the probability of error of data recovery. However, with a long enough authentication code word a useful authentication system can be achieved with very slight data degradation. Additionally, by treating the authentication tag as a sequence of pilot symbols, the data recovery can actually be improved by the aware receiver. An interesting extension to the framework considers how cross-layer designs may strengthen node security. Authentication policies based on the authentication mechanism may adapt according to the environment.

For more information
If you would like to license this intellectual property, have questions, would like to contact the inventors, or need more information, contact ISR External Relations Director Jeff Coriale at or 301.405.6604.

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Published June 23, 2007