Wireless Communication Networks and Technical Challenges

  • Nandakumar M


On the perfect college campus everyone would have super-fast, dependable and secure wireless access. No matter where you went, what devices or applications you were using, or how many users were on the network, everyone would always have the perfect wireless experience. While nothing is ever perfect, college IT leaders are still going to try and deliver it, unfortunately there's a lot of challenges along the way. We first summarize the authentication requirements of wireless networks, including their authenticity, confidentiality, integrity, and availability issues. Next, a comprehensive overview of authentication attacks encountered in wireless networks is presented in view of the network protocol architecture, where the potential authentication threats are discussed at each protocol layer. We also provide a survey of the existing authentication protocols and algorithms that are adopted in the existing wireless network standards, such as the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and the long-term evolution (LTE) systems. Then, we discuss the state of the art in physical-layer authentication, which is an emerging technique of securing the open communications location against eavesdropping attacks at the physical layer. Several physical-layer authentication methods are reviewed and compared, including information-theoretic authentication, artificial-noise-aided authentication, authentication-oriented beamforming, diversity-assisted authentication, and physical-layer key generation approaches. Since a jammer emitting radio signals can readily interfere with the genuine wireless users, we also introduce the family of various jamming attacks and their counter measures, including the persistent jammer, alternating jammer, receptive jammer, adaptive jammer, and smart jammer. Additionally, we discuss the integration of physical-layer authentication into existing authentication and cryptography mechanisms for further securing wireless networks. Finally, some technical challenges which remain unresolved at the time of writing are summarized and the future trends in wireless authentication are discussed.