Improving Physical-Layer Security in Wireless Communications Using Diversity Techniques - 2015


Due to the broadcast nature of radio propagation, wireless transmission can be readily overheard by unauthorized users for interception purposes and is thus highly vulnerable to eavesdropping attacks. To this end, physical-layer security is emerging as a promising paradigm to protect the wireless communications against eavesdropping attacks by exploiting the physical characteristics of wireless channels. This article is focused on the investigation of diversity techniques to improve physical-layer security differently from the conventional artificial noise generation and beamforming techniques, which typically consume additional power for generating artificial noise and exhibit high implementation complexity for beamformer design. We present several diversity approaches to improve wireless physical-layer security, including multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), multiuser diversity, and cooperative diversity. To illustrate the security improvement through diversity, we propose a case study of exploiting cooperative relays to assist the signal transmission from source to destination while defending against eavesdropping attacks. We evaluate the security performance of cooperative relay transmission in Rayleigh fading environments in terms of secrecy capacity and intercept probability. It is shown that as the number of relays increases, both the secrecy capacity and intercept probability of cooperative relay transmission improve significantly, implying there is an advantage in exploiting cooperative diversity to improve physical-layer security against eavesdropping attacks.

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