Rajendran Joins ECE Faculty at TAMU

Dr. Jeyavijayan “JV” Rajendran, assistant professor, was intrigued by the strong computer engineering research area within the electrical and computer engineering department and the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center. He studies hardware security, nanoelectronic computing architectures and very-large-scale integration design.He is teaching ECEN 474/714 Digital Integrated Circuit Design class this semester.

Before joining Texas A&M, Rajendran was an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Dallas. He received his bachelor’s degree from Anna University in India in 2008, his master’s degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 2010 and his doctoral degree from New York University in 2015.

Rajendran looks forward to developing his students’ interest in attacks on cyberinfrastructure that are happening around the world, making security an important issue to tackle as a computer engineer.

By: Shraddha Sankhe
Original Posting

Texas A&M Today: Engineering Researchers Develop System That Prevents Autonomous Vehicles From Crashing, Being Hacked

Dr. P.R.Kumar and graduate students Bharadwaj Satchidanandan and Woo-Hyun Ko have applied the theory of dynamic watermarking of sensors in autonomous vehicles to prevent malicious attacks.


Texas A&M University researchers have developed an intelligent transportation system prototype designed to avoid collisions and prevent hacking of autonomous vehicles. Modern vehicles are increasingly autonomous, relying on sensors to provide information to automatically control them. They are also equipped with internet access for safety or infotainment applications making them vulnerable to cyberattacks. This will only multiply as society transitions to self-driving autonomous vehicles in which hackers could gain control of the sensors, causing confusion, chaos and collisions.

Although autonomous vehicles are essentially large computers on wheels, securing them is not the same as securing a communication network that connects desktop computers and smartphones to large geographical areas due to the roles that the sensors and actuators play in the physical layer of the network.

Working in the Texas A&M’s Cyberphysical Systems Laboratory, Dr. P.R.Kumar, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, along with graduate students Bharadwaj Satchidanandan and Woo-Hyun Ko, have applied the theory of dynamic watermarking of sensors in autonomous vehicles to prevent malicious attacks.


In their research demonstrations, 10 cameras recorded the movement of the self-driving prototype vehicles. The vision sensors in the system received the images and accurately calculated the exact location and orientation of the vehicles. Then they transmitted this information to a server, which in turn controlled the vehicles.

“Sensors are like GPS navigation in the network that gather information about the environment,” said Satchidanandan. “Actuators such as motors, or controls such as the steering wheel, interact with them. If the sensors are corrupted or hijacked by malicious agents through the internet, they can provide false information on vehicle locations resulting in collisions.”

To fix this, Kumar and his team added a random private signal called a ‘watermark’ to the actuators. The presence of this watermark and its statistical properties were known to every node in the system, but its actual random values were not revealed. When the measurements reported by the sensors did not have the right properties of this watermark, the actuators assumed that the sensors or their measurements had been tampered with somewhere along the line. With this new information, the researchers could predict a collision.

The researchers showed that their technology could work in the lab. The actuators in the autonomous vehicles halted themselves when the sensors were tampered with.

“This is an instance of the broader concern of security of cyberphysical systems. The increasing integration of critical physical infrastructures, such as the smart grid or automated transportation, with the cyber system of the internet has led to such vulnerabilities,” said Kumar. “If these technologies are to be adopted by society, they will need to be protected against malicious attacks on sensors.”

Read more about the research here. The research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center on Science of Information, the United States Army Research Office, and the Qatar National Research Fund, a member of the Qatar Foundation.


This story by Shraddha Sankhe originally appeared on the College of Engineering website.

Video and story is also found at Texas A&M Today:

Engineering Researchers Develop System That Prevents Autonomous Vehicles From Crashing, Being Hacked


Tao Zhao – Best Student Paper Award

Mr. Tao Zhao, a PhD Student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, and his advisor Dr. I-Hong Hou are proud to announce that Tao Zhao has won the Best Student Paper award of the 15th International Symposium on Modeling and Optimization in Mobile, Ad Hoc, and Wireless Networks (WiOpt 2017) in Paris, France. Zhao co-wrote the paper “A Non-Monetary Mechanism for Optimal Rate Control Through Efficient Delay Allocation” with Dr. I-Hong Hou and Dr. Korok Ray.

Their paper proposes a practical non-monetary mechanism that induces the efficient solution to the optimal rate control problem, where each client optimizes its request arrival rate to maximize its own net utility individually, and at the Nash Equilibrium the total net utility of the system is also maximized. Existing mechanisms typically rely on monetary exchange which requires additional infrastructure that is not always available. Instead, the proposed protocol is based on efficient delay allocation, where the server controls the delay experienced by each client through an intelligent scheduling policy. Specifically, they present an efficient delay allocation rule for the server to determine the target delay of each client. Then they propose a simple scheduling policy to achieve such delay allocation. Furthermore, they design a distributed rate control protocol for the system to converge to the Nash Equilibrium. The optimality of their mechanism is validated via extensive simulations on two representative systems against a baseline mechanism with FIFO scheduling and centralized rate control.

Congratulations Tao Zhao!

Texas A&M Hosts 2017 Texas Systems Day

(On March 31, 2017), top researchers from across the state of Texas studying systems, controls and robotics visited Texas A&M University to participate in the fourth annual Texas Systems Day.

The one-day symposium was established in 2014 at Texas A&M to promote the interaction between researchers in Texas and the exchange of the next generation of ideas.

“This year we’ve had 168 registered attendees, which is a significant increase from last year,” said Dr. Raktim Bhattacharya, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and chair of the event’s organizational committee. “This has been a great opportunity for students to interact with other researchers and get an exposure to high-quality work.”

Dr. Jonathan How, the Richard Cockburn Maclaurin Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, kicked off the conference with his plenary presentation. Fifteen back-to-back presentations were delivered by faculty members and researchers from institutions, such as the University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Houston.

More than 50 participants presented their research in the poster session that covered topics such as cybersecurity, aerial networks, autonomous cars, innovative aerial vehicles robotics, biomedical system identification, control and optimization of smart grids, chemical plants and turbulent flows and novel estimation for space surveillance.

“The diversity of the topics highlights the importance of systems and controls in the modern engineering systems,” said Bhattacharya.

The Texas Systems Day’s steering committee includes Dr. P.R.Kumar, Distinguished Professor and chair of the computer engineering group in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Mark Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering & Computer Science at UT Dallas; and Dr. Ari Arapostathis, professor and Texas Atomic Energy Research Foundation Centennial Fellow in Electrical Engineering at UT Austin..

UT Dallas and UT Arlington hosted the one-day conference in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Article Written By: Shraddha Sankhe

Satchidanadnan wins best student paper award at COMSNETS 2017

Bharadwaj Satchidanadnan, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, won the best student paper award in the 9th International Conference on Communication Systems and Networks (COMSNETS 2017) in Bangalore, India.
Satchidanadnan co-wrote the paper “On Minimal Tests of Sensor Veracity for Dynamic Watermarking-Based Defense of Cyber-Physical Systems,” with his Ph.D. adviser, Dr. P.R. Kumar from the Computer Engineering and Systems Group.

Their paper addresses the problem of secure control of networked cyber-physical systems. More specifically, they consider the problem of controlling a physical plant with multiple inputs and multiple outputs, where the sensors measuring some of the outputs may be malicious. The malicious sensors can collude and report false measurements, fabricated possibly strategically, in order to achieve any objective that they may have, such as destabilizing the closed-loop system or increasing its running cost. In his paper, Satchidanadnan proposes a general technique termed Dynamic Watermarking, which allows the controller to detect such malicious sensors in the system and prevent them from causing performance degradation.

Satchidanandan earned his master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, where he worked on wireless communications. Between May 2015 and August 2015, he interned at Intel Labs in Santa Clara, California, where he worked on interference cancellation algorithms for next generation wireless networks. His research interests include cyberphysical systems, power systems, security, database privacy, communications, control and signal processing.