Mobile Ad Hoc Network for Interconnected Transportation; Societal Preparedness for Decentralized Networks

Willis, Tyler, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Shen, Haiying, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

In a world governed by digital networks, the network infrastructure society is accustomed to will eventually be rendered obsolete due to the sheer amount of data that will be passing through at any given moment, ushering in a new type of network that poses great moral concerns for its users. The technical component focuses on the development of a mobile ad hoc network (MANET), a type of decentralized network, for an application in interconnected transportation services. This MANET will serve as the backend software to connect pedestrians, in-motion vehicles, traffic lights, and other IoT devices with the goal of applying this solution to other, larger-scale networking problems where a network’s capability is lacking. The science, technology, and society (STS) component focuses on the implications of a MANET when considering a large-scale network. Because decentralized networks as an entity are prone to data loss, stemming from their inherent lack of security, it is a primary concern that the society that uses such a network is prepared for the necessary behavioral changes that will accompany the MANET’s application. While the application of MANETs to a myriad of fields makes logistical sense when its performance is taken into account, society’s lack of understanding or lack of interest in the security features that will be lost is an important consideration, making these two components tightly coupled.
The goal of the technical project is to develop a MANET for interconnected transportation services. This was done by first, coding the network such that it embodied the properties of a decentralized network, and then testing its performance in a real-world scenario. The network uses a reactive routing strategy, where the sender finds the best route to a receiver on demand. Two scenarios were tested, with two individual tests per scenario, which consisted of three individuals: two endpoints and one midpoint. One endpoint sent a message across the network to the other endpoint. The tests produced the following metrics: packet delivery ratio (PDR), routing success ratio (RSR), message latency, route delay, computational cost, end-to-end delay, network throughput, and network connection latency. These performance metrics will be valuable to the feasibility and design of future MANETs and decentralized networks to other networking issues. Additionally, it is the hope that these metrics can be used to identify areas for improvement within the MANET.
The results show some promise in the MANET that was developed, yielding latency times around four seconds with conditional connection times, ranging between 204 milliseconds and 1.2 seconds on average between two phones. However, there is room for improvement. The average for each metric is on the lower side of its distribution, but the high standard deviations show that sometimes messages will get held up while en route to the receiver. The next goal of the project is to reduce the standard deviations in these metrics by improving the reliability of the network. The best way to achieve more desirable results is by refactoring the code that already exists and simplifying it when possible, or to change the routing strategy altogether. Lessening the work a phone has to perform when it receives a data packet or a new connection will reduce overall latency times.
The STS research paper begged the question of whether or not society is in an acceptable state where its understanding of and attitude toward current internet security protocols can be extended to an application that uses decentralized networks. Based on early research, the belief was that society’s behavior was in an unacceptable state, but could be improved through cybersecurity awareness programs. To prove this, the paper analyzes several different case studies through Latour, Bruno, and Law’s actor network theory where cybersecurity awareness programs were implemented in different environments. The actor network model looks at five groups: regular users, malicious users, the network itself, cybersecurity awareness programs, and cybersecurity specialists. By analyzing the differences between these programs, including their designs, values, and overall messages, an informed recommendation can be made regarding the feasibility of decentralized networks as a networking solution.
It was found that the success of a cybersecurity awareness program was heavily rooted in the way the program was designed. The most successful programs took into account the intended audience’s values, appealed to certain factors that affect human behavior, such as social norms and personal defaults, and designed content that was exciting for the participant to engage with. While hard to quantify, the results of these programs were very positive, with the participants gaining a deeper understanding of internet security. It is imperative that the cybersecurity specialists that design the programs with regular users of the network in mind. However, the fact that the citizens of the United States do not take seriously security recommendations by the NSA and that most Wi-Fi networks in the middle east are not as secure as they can be, it stands to reason that society is not in an acceptable state to support the application of decentralized networks. They require participation from the majority of society in order to be as secure as possible and be a viable networking solution. However, with a continued implementation of cybersecurity awareness programs, decentralized networks are possible in the future, as seen from the promising results of these programs.
Given the results of the technical project, there is still room for improvement in the network’s capability. While decentralized networks are still being designed and tested for a variety of scenarios, cybersecurity awareness programs are a great use of time in order to increase the feasibility of these networks. Society must cooperate and have a full understanding of the inherent security risks posed by decentralized networks, and can achieve this through cybersecurity awareness programs.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Decentralized networks, Security, Mobile ad hoc network, Actor network theory

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Haiying Shen
STS Advisor: Catherine D. Baritaud

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