An architecture for secure software defined radio

Li Chunxiao, Anand Raghunathan, Niraj K. Jha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

19 Scopus citations


Software defined radio (SDR) is a rapidly evolving technology which implements some functional modules of a radio system in software executing on a programmable processor. SDR provides a flexible mechanism to reconfigure the radio, enabling networked devices to easily adapt to user preferences and the operating environment. However, the very mechanisms that provide the ability to reconfigure the radio through software also give rise to serious security concerns such as unauthorized modification of the software, leading to radio malfunction and interference with other users' communications. Both the SDR device and the network need to be protected from such malicious radio reconfiguration. In this paper, we propose a new architecture to protect SDR devices from malicious reconfiguration. The proposed architecture is based on robust separation of the radio operation environment and user application environment through the use of virtualization. A secure radio middleware layer is used to intercept all attempts to reconfigure the radio, and a security policy monitor checks the target configuration against security policies that represent the interests of various parties. Therefore, secure reconfiguration can be ensured in the radio operation environment even if the operating system in the user application environment is compromised. We have prototyped the proposed secure SDR architecture using VMware and the GNU Radio toolkit, and demonstrate that the overheads incurred by the architecture are small and tolerable. Therefore, we believe that the proposed solution could be applied to address SDR security concerns in a wide range of both general-purpose and embedded computing systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2009 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE '09
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE '09 - Nice, France
Duration: Apr 20 2009Apr 24 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings -Design, Automation and Test in Europe, DATE
ISSN (Print)1530-1591


Other2009 Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition, DATE '09

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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