Cyber research presented at IEEE GLOBECOM

Frank den Hartog | 28 Jan 2021

On Friday 11 December 2020, Dr Fayçal Bouhafs and A/Prof Frank den Hartog from UNSW Canberra Cyber presented the paper “Realizing Physical Layer Security in Large Wireless Networks using Spectrum Programmability” at the high-profile IEEE Global Communications Conference (GLOBECOM). This is the first paper describing a novel research direction in UNSW Canberra’s Security of Wireless Systems research group. It explores a practical approach to securing large wireless networks by applying Physical Layer Security (PLS). To date, PLS has mostly been seen as an information theory concept with few practical implementations. In theory, it makes eavesdropping of wireless networks physically impossible whilst still enabling communication between benign users. We propose an actual implementation using the novel concept of spectrum programming, which extends Software-Defined Networking to the physical and data-link layers and makes wireless network management and control more flexible and scalable than traditional platforms. Our evaluation of this method applied to a Wi-Fi enterprise network shows that our approach outperforms conventional solutions in terms of security, but at the expense of communication capacity, thus identifying a trade-off between security and performance. The results strongly encourage further research and implementation, along with extension to other wireless and mobile networking technologies and architectures such as 6G. Future research questions include the role of indoor vs outdoor environments and the inclusion of reflections, and the estimation of latency and overhead introduced by using our spectrum programming platform. Fayçal and Frank are actively seeking industry and defense partners who are willing to collaborate with this exciting research. In particular, we are looking for more practical use cases, system requirements, and experimentation environments. To request a copy of the paper, the researchers can be contacted at or