NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 E2.02-9745
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Command and Data Handling
PROPOSAL TITLE: Securing data for space communications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
CompSys Technologies Inc.
435 Creekside Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2112

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Sumita Mishra
435 Creekside Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2112

NASA's vision of data exchange between space and ground nodes would involve the space network accessing public infrastructure such as the internet. Hence, advanced security measures have to be developed to ensure information integrity and authentication.
The proposed innovations in this work are 1) A hierachical security model, where each level has a different security requirement and varying capabilities (such as power and ad hoc measure), 2) An adaptive key management protocol suite that would cater to the security needs of the network at the various levels, and 3) A novel key management scheme that uses threshold cryptography and group key management concepts.

The significance of our approach is to provide a key management solution that provides strong authentication and data integrity, a solution that is flexible and can be adapted according to different security requirements and capabilities of the network and a scheme that considers the performance capabilities of the participating nodes and provides solutions accordingly.

In order to realize NASA's vision of Sensor-Web entailing a host of in-space and terrestrial communication links, enhanced network protocols and technologies are desired. Hence the developed authentication and data integrity methodology will be highly applicable to future NASA networks that would support secure communication among NASA spacecraft, commercial GEO networks and the ground systems. The proposed methodology will ensure authenticated data transfer between the public domain (Internet) and space-based networks. It will also satisfy the goals and objectives of NASA's Space Communications project, particularly for Proximity Wireless networks that aim to develop "energy-efficient, reliable, miniaturized, integrated wireless network technologies to enable robotic missions on planetary surfaces and in-space vehicles."

Wireless handheld devices are in use in several commercial applications including office buildings, universities and industrial plants. However, secure communication is one of the primary limitations of current commercial/military wireless networks. Current IEEE standards and solutions are inadequate as far as Information Assurance is concerned.

Hence, the proposed authentication and key management solution is attractive for NASA as well as the private sector because it provides a unique methodology that ensures secure transmission of data between the nodes of any wireless network. It can be easily extended for mobile environments that include both wired and wireless segments based on varying commercial standards. With the availability of secure wireless access, organizations can provide wireless access to their servers outside their firewalls and buidings.