Secure Physical Layer Voting

Nirnimesh Ghose, Bocan Hu, Yan Zhang, Loukas Lazos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Distributed wireless networks often employ voting to perform critical network functions such as fault-tolerant data fusion, cooperative sensing, and reaching consensus. Voting is implemented by sending messages to a fusion center or via direct message exchange between participants. However, the delay overhead of message-based voting can be prohibitive when numerous participants have to share the wireless channel in sequence, making it impractical for time-critical applications. In this paper, we propose a fast PHY-layer voting scheme called PHYVOS, which significantly reduces the delay for collecting and tallying votes. In PHYVOS, wireless devices transmit their votes simultaneously by exploiting the subcarrier orthogonality of OFDM and without explicit messaging. Votes are realized by injecting energy to pre-assigned subcarriers. We show that PHYVOS is secure against adversaries that attempt to manipulate the voting outcome. Security is achieved without employing cryptography-based authentication and message integrity schemes. We analytically evaluate the voting robustness as a function of PHY-layer parameters. We extend PHYVOS to operate in ad hoc groups, without the assistance of a fusion center. We discuss practical implementation challenges related to multi-device frequency and time synchronization and present a prototype implementation of PHYVOS on the USRP platform. We complement the implementation with larger scale simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-702
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • OFDM
  • Physical-layer security
  • data fusion
  • voting
  • wireless

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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