To meet the need, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has started a program called the Wireless Network Defense program to develop new protocols that enable military wireless networks to remain operational despite inadvertent misconfigurations or malicious compromise of individual nodes.
"Current security efforts focus on individual radios or nodes, rather than the network, so a single misconfigured or compromised radio could debilitate an entire network," said Wayne Phoel, DARPA program manager.
"We need to change how we control wireless networks by developing a network-based solution for current and future systems that acknowledges there will be bad nodes and enables the network to operate around them."
DARPA said that deployed troops rely on wireless devices to access a network -- and in some cases comprise the network -- in areas lacking a secure communications infrastructure. Protocols for these networks require nodes to coordinate among themselves to manage resources, but these protocols implicitly trust all information shared about the security and operational state of each node and the network.
As a result, inaccurate control or security information can quickly render the network unusable.
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