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Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC)

Noise Hides Covert Communication Signals


By Michelle Ward

ITTC researchers have developed a new form of high-speed covert communication that leverages existing radar emissions.

EECS Associate Professor Shannon Blunt collaborated with EECS Associate Professor Erik Perrins and graduate students Justin Metcalf and Casey Biggs on the development of an intra-pulse radar-embedded communication approach. The specially designed covert signals achieve the right trade-off between communication performance and interception avoidance. For example, the system may allow soldiers behind enemy lines to send secure messages by hiding signals among the echoes generated by a nearby high-powered radar. Intended receivers would have sufficient prior knowledge to recover the hidden signal, while eavesdroppers would be unaware of the signal's existence.

Such technology traditionally employs hundreds to thousands of radar pulses to insert covert signals. However, by inserting information into the echoes from each individual radar pulse, the ITTC approach has the potential to increase the data rate by orders of magnitude.

The work, funded by a U.S. Air Force Young Investigator Award that Dr. Blunt received in 2007, culminated in the December publication of "Performance Characteristics and Metrics for Intra-Pulse Radar-Embedded Communication" in the prestigious IEEE Journal of Selected Areas in Communications (JSAC).

For more information, contact ITTC.

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