On Ensuring Secrecy of Wireless Communications by Designing a Secure Physical Layer

Electrical and Computer Engineering
NYU Community Event

Speaker: Professor Athina Petropulu 

Host Faculty: Professor Elza Erkip


The prevalence of wireless technologies in our daily life is driven by our desire to communicate from anywhere at anytime. However, due to the broadcast nature of the wireless channel wireless communications are easily accessible to intruders. Ensuring the secrecy of confidential transactions conducted over wireless networks is a pressing need. Conventionally, wireless communications are secured using cryptographic protocols, which were mainly developed for wireline networks and as such have several flaws when applied to wireless networks. The talk discusses approaches to establish a confidential channel between a source and the legitimate destination in the presence of one of more eavesdroppers. The confidential channel is created through the use of multiple antennas at the source, or via node cooperation, whereby nodes reinforce each others' communications and/or also cooperatively jam the eavesdroppers. Thus, the legitimate destinations will reliably receive the communicated information, but eavesdroppers will not be able to decode the communication signal even if they knew the encoding/decoding schemes and encryption-decryption keys used by the transmitter/receiver.

About the Speaker

Athina P. Petropulu received the Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and the MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer. Between 1992-2010 she was faculty at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University. Since 2010, she is Professor and Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research interests span the areas of statistical signal processing with emphasis on wireless communications and networking. She is the recipient of the 1995 Presidential Faculty Fellow Award in Electrical Engineering given by NSF and the White House. Dr. Petropulu is Fellow of IEEE. She was Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing (2009-2011), IEEE Signal Processing Society Vice President-Conferences (2006-2008), and member-at-large of the IEEE Signal Processing Board of Governors. She was the General Chair of the 2005 International Conference on Acoustics Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP-05), Philadelphia PA. She is co-recipient of the 2005 IEEE Signal Processing Magazine Best Paper Award. More info on her work can be found at