Congradulations on graduations of Zisheng Wang and Yicheng Chen

The Ph. D. students of Prof Blum, Zisheng Wang and Yicheng Chen, graduated from Lehigh University in May, 2021. Zisheng Wang and Yicheng Chen both obtained their B. S. in the Unversity of Electronic Science and Technology of China in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Yicheng Chen passed his doctoral defense entitled “Ordered Transmissions, Estimation, and Parameter Learning” on April 26 th, 2021. Zisheng Wang passed his doctoral defense entitled “Cybersecurity for Some Cyber Physical Systems Through Machine Learning” on April 28th, 2021. Both students did a great job during their time in SPCRL.

Prof Blum is so proud of his latest PhD graduates Yicheng and Zisheng. They were so great to work with and demonstrated excellence in research in such a difficult time. They will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.  They will go out and do amazing things in the world and have excellent careers. Best wishes for the future of Dr. Wang and Dr. Chen.

Patent propels PhD student into Army research post

Work by ECE alum Jake Perazzone ’17G ’20 PhD a potential breakthrough in wireless communication security

“It’s not often that a PhD student is awarded a patent before he graduates,” says Rick Blum, Lehigh’s Robert W. Wieseman Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

For Jake Perazzone ’17G ’20 PhD, the accomplishment—marking a potential breakthrough in wireless communication security—came in early August, exactly a day before his dissertation defense as a doctoral candidate in electrical and electronics engineering.

“Being able to talk about my practical research at [the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory] and my experience in going through the patent process helped me defend my PhD case,” says Perazzone. “I could show that I turned theory into practice.”

Blum connected Perazzone with the ARL lab in 2015, recommending him for an internship at the facility before he started his graduate studies at Lehigh. He interned at the lab each year during his PhD studies, often supported by the Army Research Office. Today, Perazzone is an electronics engineer at the lab, helping to develop cutting-edge technology.

During his graduate studies, working alongside Blum and Army researchers Paul Yu and Brian Sadler, Perazzone proposed a streamlined model for digital security.

A secure wireless communication traditionally requires authentication, a guarantee of the transmitter’s identity; covertness, a guarantee that the message remains unknown to outside parties and secrecy, a guarantee that no third-party eavesdropper could decode the message. Typically, these are handled separately through methods such as encryption.

Perazzone and his team have learned to combine these two aspects of security. Through minor perturbations in a transmission’s physical waveform, a transmitter and a sender can ensure that a given transmission is both legitimate and private. A set of “signal keys”—distinct disturbances previously agreed upon between the transmitter and the receiver—determines if the message is secure.

The result is a streamlined system that’s faster and less susceptible to eavesdropping.

Their novel process can provide security by itself, or be added to existing methods of security, and has potential applications in both military and civilian wireless communication technology, according to Perazzone and Blum, from the most high-stakes of field transmissions to the mere remote preheating of a smart oven.

The research and development grew out of one of Yu’s previous patents. Perazzone first published his work in IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security in 2018. Soon, however, Sadler told him that his idea was potentially impactful enough to warrant a patent.

The patent process involved rewrites of the group’s initial journal paper. Perazzone says the research lab’s lawyers handled the legal elements of the patent, and that Sadler’s experience with the patent process helped secure their own.

Perazzone’s research encountered its share of snags. He says the most difficult part of wireless security research is estimating a potential eavesdropper’s methods of detection.

Yet, he remains optimistic that his research can evade the cat-and-mouse nature of security research between transmitters and potential adversaries.

Blum says his former student has a bright future as an electrical engineer. At ARL, Perazzone will continue his studies in authentication, as well as the role of machine learning in detecting cyberattacks and deceiving adversaries.

“Jake is hardworking, he thinks carefully about what he’s doing, and he listens. He’ll have a great career.”

—Will Newbegin ’21 is a student writer for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science

Lehigh ICPIE: Rick Blum and Jake Perazzone Earn Patent for Secure Communications Invention in Collaboration with Army Researchers

In August, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Army Research Laboratory announced that a team of Army researchers received a patent for a secure communications invention. The team included Rick Blum, Robert W. Wieseman Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and I-CPIE member and Lehigh alumnus Jake Perazzone ‘17G ’20 PhD. Perazzone was Blum’s 24th PhD student and is currently a visiting researcher at Army Research Laboratory.

Blum and Perazzone worked with Drs. Paul Yu and Brian Sadler from the Army Research Laboratory to develop a method for wireless communication using a service side-channel signaling and authentication at the physical level. This approach allows for simultaneous verification of the authenticity of wireless communications and communication of secret information.

Speaking to the collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory, Blum notes that he and his students have been lucky to collaborate with the lab over the years. “The Army Research Laboratory knows all of the related work by others—even outside of academia” Blum notes, “…they have important real problems that need to be solved and the solutions can have a tremendous impact on protecting communications.” These collaborations give Lehigh students an opportunity to work on important issues identified by those intimately involved with the technology.

Blum also notes that working with the Army Research Laboratory collaborators—who are excellent role models for performing research that impacts real systems—helps better prepare students to make the important discoveries needed to improve our world. The invention that Blum and Perazzone worked on, for example, makes it more difficult for an adversary to impersonate an ally by providing a practical method for Army wireless devices to covertly authenticate and communicate.

According to CCDC, the team’s research supports the Network Army Modernization Priority by establishing a method for efficient and future-proof secure wireless communications.

Prof. Blum gives talk at UCSD as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer

Dr. Rick Blum, I-CPIE faculty and Robert W. Wieseman Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering traveled to Southern California in late September to guest lecture at the University of California, San Diego. Blum’s talk was part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Distinguished Lecturer Program. The program is meant to provide chapters of the IEEE Signal Processing Society access to well-known educators and authors in the fields of signal processing.

As the director of Lehigh’s Signal Processing and Communication Research Lab, Blum is making contributions to the foundational theories of machine learning, statistical decision-making, and cybersecurity. His lecture, Cyber-Attacks on Internet of Things Sensor Systems for Inference, described how to provide tight bounds (with sufficient data) on the performance of the best inference algorithms after attack. In this context, he discussed trying to estimate a parameter after any cyber-attack aimed at degrading the estimation performance. Blum also described low complexity unsupervised learning algorithms that achieve performance very close to these bounds. This theory can be applied to attacks on object localization algorithms, which are employed in automobiles to avoid hitting people and other vehicles based on RADAR and other available sensors. As terrorists have already driven automobiles into people, it is urgent we stop them from remotely causing collisions with humans. The research indicates that employing a set of diverse sensor resources and smart algorithms has significant potential to identify and mitigate such attacks.

Blum has had a summer full of speaking engagements as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer, with talks in Toronto, California (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), several cities in China, Indiana (Purdue University), Ohio (Ohio State University), Paris, Brussels, and Munich. His next talk is scheduled for early November in Israel. He will be discussing cyberattacks on Internet of Things sensor systems for inference with the Israel chapter of the IEEE Signal Processing Society.