Developing Secure Next-Generation Cellular Networks

ECE Assistant Professor Francesco Restuccia, William Lincoln Smith Professor Tommaso Melodia, and Khoury Associate Professor Alina Oprea were awarded a $900K NSF grant for “Resilient-by-Design Data-Driven NextG Open Radio Access Networks.”

Abstract Source: NSF

Society increasingly depends on cellular networks, making it critical to assure that the networks are secure against cyber attacks. Next-generation cellular networks are expected to rely on machine learning (ML) algorithms to achieve real-time resource optimization across space, time, frequency and devices. This project studies security threats to those ML algorithms and develops solutions to protect them, focusing on the Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) architecture which is rapidly becoming widespread. All project outputs (algorithms, hardware/software designs, and datasets) will be made publicly available through the NSF RFDataFactory website, helping to address the current lack of large-scale datasets for data-driven wireless research. As part of the project, several graduate students will develop unique expertise at the crossroads of ML, security, embedded systems and wireless networks. The project?s key findings will be integrated into new graduate courses in wireless ML security, and will enrich ongoing initiatives at Northeastern University for undergraduate and K-12 students coming from underrepresented minority groups.

Novel optimization frameworks are investigated to model adversarial ML attacks in Open RANs. These findings are used to design ML architecture search algorithms to find ML models for Open RANs that are resilient to attack while still satisfying constraints such as end-to-end latency and energy consumption. The project designs anomaly detection techniques to enhance resilience in dynamic settings, and dynamic defense strategies against real-time dataset poisoning attacks. The proposed techniques are evaluated using one or more of the following testbeds: the Colosseum network emulator, the OpenRANGym framework, and the NSF PAWR POWDER platform.

Related Faculty: Francesco Restuccia, Tommaso Melodia

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering