Towards Secure and Scalable UWB-based Positioning Systems

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Positioning systems based on ultra-wideband (UWB) technology are becoming ubiquitous and enable a plethora of attractive Internet of Things applications, ranging from smart access and asset tracking to the navigation of autonomous vehicles. As these positioning systems are often deployed over large areas, the focus of UWB-based research has recently shifted to the development of scalable solutions that can offer a high positioning accuracy for countless tags while maximizing energy efficiency. At the same time, as positioning systems are increasingly used in safety-critical settings, several academic efforts and the standardization activities of the IEEE 802.15.4z working group have laid the foundations for a secure distance estimation using UWB technology. Unfortunately, these two endeavours have followed independent tracks that do not blend together. In this paper, we highlight this issue and describe the challenge of securing modern UWB-based positioning systems that are designed with scalability in mind. We first illustrate how the use of unidirectional communications, the need for synchronized anchors, and the use of quasi-simultaneous responses, which are common features of recent scalable UWB systems based on time-difference-of-arrival, make these solutions vulnerable to several attacks, despite the use of IEEE 802.15.4z. After carrying out a security analysis and describing how scalable UWB systems are exposed to several attacks, we devise a number of design concepts to counteract the identified attacks and secure these systems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020
Event17th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Smart Systems : MASS 2020 - Virtual event, Virtual, Delhi, India
Duration: 10 Dec 202013 Dec 2020


Conference17th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Smart Systems
Abbreviated titleIEEE MASS 2020
CityVirtual, Delhi
Internet address

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing

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