Cistel has taken the challenge of embracing and conducting scientific research in various cutting-edge networking areas such as wireless sensor networks, voice over IP and multimedia services, as well as middleware architecture for bridge infrastructure management. Cistel has been working closely with best-in-class Canadian researchers from Carleton University, University of Ottawa and Concordia University in advancing new technologies in these areas.
- Wireless Sensor Network
This research specifically aims at developing a suite of novel algorithms which can be used in sensor wireless networks for routing information about the nodes which are critical for wireless communications. To a broader scale, the research approach is also towards development of an advanced position based routing, allowing a user to make peer-to-peer multimedia communications without any infrastructure available. An on-demand network is to be established that is secure, robust and reliable in realistic physical wireless media which is prone to limited channel capacity, dynamic and changing positions of nodes, signal degradation and fading, nodes going to sleep mode to preserve power and interference of the signal. The sophisticated position-based networking layer routing will allow the users of existing MAC layer and link layer nodes to establish and reliably forward multimedia traffic in this hostile and dynamic environment. The advanced features of the routing algorithm will be such that the various requirements are properly met such as (i) reliability (there should be always reachability, the algorithm must be guaranteed to find a route, if there exists any), (ii) fault-tolerant (nodes in an ad-hoc network can come and go at any point in time or malfunction, but the routing algorithm must work), (iii) energy efficient (nodes cannot be computationally too intensive, need to ensure low energy consumption), (iv) secured (the algorithm must take into account the security aspect as an ad-hoc network is more vulnerable to attacks). Developing and characterizing a suite of novel algorithms would definitely help in realizing the ad-hoc networks with sensors for different practical applications. These algorithms will be developed such that they can be easily applied in various different applications given the requirements. The scientific and technology advancements in this research would lead to many practical applications where an optimum routing solution is a must. Different case studies will be also conducted to validate these algorithms against different practical applications.
- Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 - Authentication, Encryption and Wi-Fi Protected Setup Vulnerability
The IEEE 802.11 set of standards for Wireless Local Area Networks had an inbuilt protocol for network security - Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). However, the method with which WEP transmitted data link layer packets was not secure enough and therefore vulnerable. WEP was replaced by Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which eliminated the flaws in the implementation of WEP. Subsequently, Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) was introduced and it used Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). But, modern day routers and access points that use WPA2 make use of a feature known as Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). This paper demonstrates the presence of a major design error in WPS feature, which makes it vulnerable to brute-force attacks. The paper begins with a transition from WEP to WPA2 and describes the encryption and authentication techniques employed by WPA2. It further goes on to describe the WPS functionality. Lastly, it explains the WPS vulnerability and demonstrates it with a conclusive experiment carried out on a WPA2/PSK wireless LAN.
- Voice and Multimedia Services over IP
Cistel has conducted research into methodologies and knowledge-based tools which can be used to develop, test and manage VoIP gateway products. The vision and design of a knowledge-based software tool mainly for testing VoIP gateway applications is in progress. The rapid technological advancement in many telecommunications areas such as voice over IP creates an enormous challenge to the tester. Effective and efficient testing depends on the the testers knowledge of the technology to a great extent and it is extremely challenging to keep up with new technology with the time-to-market pressure and tight delivery schedules. In a unique way, the tool acts as a subject matter expert in VoIP and as an experienced tester helping junior testers and/or testers new to this field develop excellent test plans with suites of test cases to test various functionalities of the VoIP gateway products. Cistel has also been looking into methodologies to test voice/video quality in a simulation test bed. This would enable research in voice and video over IP quality. Extensive research has also been done towards providing cost-effective VoIP PBX solutions to small to medium-size business (SMB).
- Bridge Infrastructure Management
Bridge Infrastructure Management using the advanced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure is extremely important. Currently, the bridge infrastructure problem is addressed in a compartmentalized fashion. Solutions are researched in isolated areas of design, maintenance and repair, monitoring, asset management, policy and planning. But, the existing approach in bridge engineering practice neither facilitates the transfer of information and knowledge, nor does it encourage collaboration among bridge engineers and researchers, owners and other stakeholders. Effective monitoring, management and maintenance of these infrastructures are important for the safety of the public as well as for reducing the costs associated with the operation and maintenance. In recent years, the progress in information and communication technology, which includes cost-effective ubiquitous network technology and the availability of various distributed system engineering techniques (e.g. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) tools), has provided tremendous opportunity to address these complex problems in a distributed and cost-effective manner. Essentially, it is necessary to network enable and manage various resources such as sensors, computing and storage devices, databases of historic data regarding the state and maintenance of the infrastructure and software tools so that these resources can be remotely accessed and shared through various user interfaces. The key to the solution of the infrastructure management problem is middleware that will provide connectivity and inter-operability among diverse resources and manage these resources in an effective manner. Although the focus of the research is on a middleware that will integrate a variety of different geographically dispersed resources for improving the current practice in bridge management in a cost-effective manner, the middleware is envisioned to be generic in nature and can be adapted to other infrastructure management problems with a modest effort.
- Secure Channel-Based Systems
Security in a distributed system often comes at the cost of a performance penalty. Due to the CPU time consuming security algorithms used, transferring data using SSL is known to be significantly slow. The research project focuses on a security sieve that separates the non-classified components from the classified components and will transmit them over non-secure and secure channels respectively. The components are re-assembled at the receiving end to reconstruct the original document. The secure components can be “marked” by the author of the document. It may also be possible to automatically identify them based on a set of keywords. For the work discussed in this research a “marked by author approach” is followed. Devising techniques for automatically marking a document can form an interesting direction for future research. A paper presenting an initial set of research results of a university-industry collaborative research has been submitted in the ACM/SPEC International Conference (March 2011). The technique can be deployed both in a wired as well as in a wireless network domain.
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