Assessment of Passive Radio Perturbations against Wireless Systems using Reconfigurable Surfaces

Published : 1 January 2023

Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RISs), which consist of nearly-passive controllable devices (behaving as e.g., electromagnetic mirrors, lenses, or large sensing surfaces), have already shown promising potential to boost -or even sometimes just to enable- data communication and localization capabilities in next-generation wireless networks, while limiting the need of active base stations. Conversely, RISs could also be viewed as a low-cost and stealth means to maliciously manipulate propagation channels and accordingly, perturbate conventional/legitimate communication links or localization systems in a given physical environment. Leveraging very recent results regarding RIS HW prototyping, experimental characterization and modeling (i.e., on both unitary RIS response and RIS-augmented propagation channels), the proposed PhD study will thus explore the possibilities offered at radio signal level by the deployment of illegal reflective RISs, in terms of passive jamming (e.g., undetectable multipath interference), passive fooling (e.g., playing with multipath features to mislead ranging or positioning functionalities), or even neutralising communication security schemes (e.g., channel-based physical layer security mechanisms or location-based authentication overlays). On this occasion, potential countermeasures to be applied by legitimate wireless systems will also be proposed and tested through real experiments.

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