TII's Secure Systems Research Center Collaborates with Global Universities on Secure Mesh Communications Research Projects

TII's Secure Systems Research Center Collaborates with Global Universities on Secure Mesh Communications Research Projects
  • Synergy to improve communication resilience, ensure dependable secure mesh networks, integral to enhancing communication infrastructure, enabling secure autonomous systems

Technology Innovation Institute (TII), the applied research pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), today announced that its Secure Systems Research Center (SSRC) has partnered with three prestigious universities on  secure mesh communications research projects.

Mesh Network is a network topology in which the infrastructure nodes connect directly, dynamically, and non-hierarchically to as many other nodes as possible, and cooperate with one another to efficiently route data to and from third parties. The project is set to strengthen the security of the Mesh network technology that TII is currently developing for machine to machine and human to human communications.

The three partner universities include the UAE’s Khalifa University of Science and Technology, a world-class research institution that nurtures critical thinkers in applied science and engineering, University of Turku in Turku, Finland, and Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Styria, Austria. The Khalifa University project is titled ‘A Secure and Resilient Chat/VoIP Application over Private Mesh Networks’. Meanwhile, the University of Turku project focuses on ‘R3Swarms: Robust, Resilient and Reconfigurable Swarms’, and the project with TU Graz is titled ‘SPiDR: Secure, Performant, Dependable, and Resilient Wireless Mesh Networks’.

Speaking on the significance of this development for the UAE and the wider region, Dr Shreekant (Ticky) Thakkar, Chief Researcher at SSRC, said: “In the UAE we conduct research to provide technology that improves life through making systems and communications safer. This is of the utmost importance when technologies combine human, physical systems, and software interactions. Mesh Network Research conducted with our partners in Turku University, TU Graz, and Khalifa University will accelerate the deployment of safe communication for the benefit of people living in the UAE and the wider region.”

Dr Thakkar said the collaborations with Turku University and TU Graz will span the domain of communication resilience improvement through exploring, among other aspects, UWB (Ultra-wideband) transmissions, while the partnership with Khalifa University focuses on PHY (Physical layer) security and secure routing. A total of four research programmes are getting underway to provide a significant improvement in the ability of Mesh networks to resist eavesdropping, scanning, malware propagation and jamming, among other threats. As a direct application, these benefits are critical for cyber physical system swarm communications to become credible and resilient when operating autonomously, Dr Thakkar added.

Reiterating the significance of the new synergies, Jean- Pierre Giacalone, Vice President, Secure Connectivity at SSRC, said: “This project enables us to realise our ambition to provide the highest level of security and resilience through our Mesh network technology. Through leveraging a flexible approach in providing the requisite security features as open-source contributions, we are also targeting future users of such networks that want to deploy them easily. Therefore, the wider population will be able to benefit from this technology that accelerates the development of safer systems for all.”

He added: “We are conducting advanced research in the domain of machine to machine and human to human communication for secure mesh networks deployment through partnering with universities that offer the best competencies and track records in communication resilience as well as new forms of secrecy using radio PHY-layer. Our goal is to provide world-class leading security technology for Mesh network deployment released as open-source software.”

He said dependable and secure Mesh networks are an integral part of overall communication infrastructure and will enable secure autonomous systems.

Dr Carlo Boano, Associate Professor, Institute of Technical Informatics, TU Graz, said: “The technologies developed within SPiDR will empower off-the-shelf drones and smartphones with the ability to autonomously detect and mitigate malicious attacks and coexistence problems, thereby increasing their availability and functionality without adding to the costs of operating them.”

Dr Tomi Westerlund, Associate Professor, Smart Systems at University of Turku, said: “The project with SSRC focuses on exploiting and advancing state-of-the-art technologies including, but not limited to, DL, DLT, UWB, as the basis to design and build more secure, flexible, robust, resilient, and reconfigurable swarms.”

For his part, Dr Hadi Otrok, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Khalifa University, said: “Through this project, we aim to build efficiencies and address earlier shortcomings by developing efficient chat and VoIP applications within secure and resilient mesh networks.”

One of seven initial dedicated research centers at TII, SSRC was established to create a global center of excellence in the development of end-to-end security and resilience to protect cyber-physical and autonomous systems.