We’ve always been told not to connect to public Wi-Fi while sharing critical information. It’s because hackers can easily intercept the data due to the openness of public Wi-Fi. However, MIT researchers might have a solution for this. They have created a wireless transmitter, which moves data packets between different radio frequencies quickly enough to keep the hackers away.
The system is known as frequency hopping, which sends data packets over random radio channels. These packets contain thousands of bits, making the larger packets slow enough to let a hacker snag data from them.
To solve this problem, MIT transmitter bounces every individual bit at random every microsecond across 80 different channels, speeding up the process to a point where it is too fast for the hacker to intercept. Besides, the researchers developed a new wireless protocol that will support the rapid frequency hopping.
Before transmitting the bits, the sending device shares a key with receiving device to make it understand how data is being sent off. The receiver then understands how the data is being split and stitch it together, which is so quick and random that no potential hacker will be able to understand.
“With the current existing [transmitter] architecture, you wouldn’t be able to hop data bits at that speed with low power. By developing this protocol and radio frequency architecture together, we offer physical-layer security for connectivity of everything,” said Rabia Tugce Yazicigil, the first author on the research paper.
As the number of connected devices growing rapidly, it has become necessary to keep those IoT devices secure from hacking. This wireless transmitter could protect medical devices such as insulin pumps, or pacemakers from potential attacks. It can also protect smart meters or other IoT devices that help maintain a smart home.