Securing satellite communications with in-network computing

This project aims to design, implement and evaluate a system to enhance the security and privacy of emerging satellite communications infrastructure using in-network computing and software-defined networking.

Satellite networks are increasingly used for remote communications in commercial, government, and military sectors around the world. The emerging mega-constellations of low Earth orbit (LEO) communication satellites such as SpaceX Starlink, Amazon Kuiper, OneWeb, and Telesat Lightspeed offering Gigabits per second speeds with multiple Tbps of capacity have the potential to transform the economics of enterprise, telecom, aeronautical, maritime, and government networks.

In our previous research, we have demonstrated vulnerabilities in satellite broadband systems using geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) satellites, and have shown that many of these systems use unencrypted data links. To tackle this problem, we have developed QPEP – an open-source tool that provides satellite network users with over-the-air encryption while at the same time significantly reducing the average web-page loading times when compared to state-of-the-art VPN services.

The goal of this project is to leverage the high-performance packet processing capabilities of eBPF/XDP and P4-programmable network devices to extend the applicability of QPEP to hybrid communication systems that combine both GEO satellites and emerging LEO satellite networks.

The developed tools and algorithms will be released under an open-source license, as contributions to existing projects or as new projects themselves.

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