Course Summary

Prerequisites: Minimum Knowledge!

  1. Wireless Digital Communications: bit error rate, AWGN channel
  2. Computer and Communication Networks: layer model, network protocols
  3. Probability and Statistics: conditional statistics, independence, discrete distributions
  4. Course Level: Master

    Learning effort: min. of 150 hours of study (30 hrs. e-learning directed study, 15 hrs. collaborative online lab, 15 hrs. collaborative project, 60 hrs. preparation/follow up of labs/project, 30 hrs. follow up independent study and individual preparation for exam).

    Credits: 6 ECTS

Teaching method: Blended Learning

The instructor answers students’ questions (Q&A), presents problems and case studies, moderates discussions using interactive systems e.g. webinar or video conference. These weekly supportive sessions are announced a priori to the participants.

Learning objectives:

Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

  • Understand the threats and the security requirements in operating a wireless, ad hoc or mobile network.
  • Understand the threats for mobile users and their security needs.
  • Determine what security services are needed in some wireless scenarios and what mechanisms can best provide these services at the different layers of the protocol stack.
  • Analyze wireless security protocols in terms of the level of security they provide, their effectiveness and complexity.

General description:

The course aims at introducing the fundamental notions and tools in wireless communication and network security, with a focus on the solutions, attacks and countermeasures that can be deployed at the different layers in wireless and mobile networks.
In the fundamental framework, threats that are typical in wireless and mobile networks will be presented, together with the security services and mechanisms that can prevent them. In this context, computational vs unconditional security notions will be explored, cryptographic and non-cryptographic security mechanisms will be introduced, and their usage for wireless network security will be presented.
In the more specific part of the course, several security protocols that are currently used or have been proposed in the literature will be discussed, simulated and implemented in the virtual lab.

Course content:

Application Layer Security

  • Secure localization
  • Location privacy
  • Vehicular networks security
Transport Layer Security
  • SSL/TLS implementation in mobile systems
  • Network Layer Security
  • Secure routing for ad hoc networks
  • Secure neighbour discovery
  • Wormhole attacks
  • Secure network coding
  • Secure handover in cellular networks
Data Link Layer Security
  • Secure data aggregation in Wireless Sensor Networks
  • Integrity protection of satellite navigation messages
  • Securing Medium Access Control policies
Physical Layer Security
  • Physical layer secrecy; achievable secrecy rates
  • Secrecy capacity for Gaussian, fading and MIMO channels
  • Unconditionally secure secret key agreement
  • Secret key capacity for Gaussian, fading and MIMO channels
  • Jamming and its rejection; mutual information jamming games
  • Channel-based authentication
  • Wireless fingerprinting
Security standards for wireless networks
  • Security in UMTS/LTE/LTE-A
  • IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) and WiMax security
  • Security for mobile IP

Lab assignments:

Application and Transport Layer (with Android devices and/or virtual machines)

  • Android security auditing with Genymotion virtual machine and Burp Suite proxy
  • Capturing and monitoring android network traffic
  • Sniffing insecure connections
  • SSL man-in-the-middle attack: stealing credentials
  • Getting remote shell command
  • Penetration testing framework for Android applications
  • SSL man-in-the-middle attack using SSL Strip & mobile network exploit
Network and Data Link Layer (with Octave/NS3 simulations and/or WSN testbed)
  • Secure data aggregation
  • Wormhole attacks
  • Secure routing
  • GNSS data spoofing, navigation message authentication
Physical layer (with Octave simulations and/or software defined radios)
  • Physical layer secrecy, wiretap coding and decoding, strong secrecy assessment
  • Information theoretic key agreement, information reconciliation and privacy amplification
  • Jamming rejection, time-frequency hopping, wideband modulation
  • GNSS spoofing and detection, delay attacks, meaconing, position spoofing
All the assignments will be carried out using the virtual lab container with already installed software packages, hardware devices, or with open source software tools.
All the assignments are mandatory for being admitted to the exam.

Collaborative and cumulative project:

A project will be assigned to the students.
The project will be carried out in a collaborative manner by international teams of 2-3 students. It will be presented in a form of a wiki. The project will be cumulative, i.e. each project step is based on the framework provided by the prior steps.
The project is mandatory for being admitted to the exam.


Throughout the course, students will be involved in e-discussions related to the course content, through means specific to e-learning, such as forums, wikis, e-portfolios, etc. As part of the virtual community, each student will give feedback to at least two colleagues in the forums.


  • Lab performance = 30% of the final grade.
  • Project performance = 20% of the final grade.
  • Discussions performance = 10% of the final grade.
  • Written presence exam (60 min.) = 40% of the final grade. (conducted at the home university with a help of a trusted teacher)
The result of the evaluation will be expressed in percentage and transferred to the students’ home university by the instructor.

Reading List:

  1. L. Buttyan and J.-P. Hubaux, Security and cooperation in wireless networks. Thwarting malicious and selfish behavior in the age of ubiquitous computing. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  2. Y. Xiao, X. Shen, D. Du (eds.), Wireless network security. Springer International Publishing, 2007.
  3. M. R. Bloch and J. Barros, Physical-Layer Security. From Information Theory to Security Engineering. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Nicola Laurenti
Assistant Professor, University of Padua, Department of Information Engineering, School of Engineering, Padua, Italy
Research interests: Wireless & Unconditional Security, Quantum Cryptography

As engineers, we often face the problem of ensuring system reliability by protecting against impairments that are random but regular and statistically predictable, or providing safety against virtually unpredictable, possibly catastrophic, yet rare events. Security is the only field where we have to confront a cunning adversary who makes every effort to be unpredictable and will consistently exploit any vulnerability in our design. Benvenuto al nostro corso!