Multi-robot networks use wireless communication to provide wide-ranging services such as aerial surveillance and unmanned delivery. However, effective coordination between multiple robots requires trust, making them particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Specifically, such networks can be gravely disrupted by the Sybil attack, where even a single malicious robot can spoof a large number of fake clients.
MIT researchers propose a new solution to defend against the Sybil attack, without requiring expensive cryptographic key-distribution. Their core contribution is a novel algorithm implemented on commercial Wi-Fi radios that can “sense” spoofers using the physics of wireless signals.
Most planning algorithms in multirobot systems rely on some kind of voting procedure to determine a course of action. Each robot makes a recommendation based on its own limited, local observations, and the recommendations are aggregated to yield a final decision.
A natural way for a hacker to infiltrate a multirobot system would be to impersonate a large number of robots on the network and cast enough spurious votes to tip the collective decision, a technique called “spoofing.” The researchers’ new system analyzes the distinctive ways in which robots’ wireless transmissions interact with the environment, to assign each of them its own radio “fingerprint.” If the system identifies multiple votes as coming from the same transmitter, it can discount them as probably fraudulent.
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