New Project Aims to Offer System that Detects Threats to Electromagnetic Infrastructure Security

Developing a system for the detection of threats to the electromagnetic space is the goal of a new research project, the SOCRATES project, headed by IMDEA Networks Institute (a networking research organization based in Madrid, Spain). Recently, NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division – Science for Peace and Security Programme (SPS) awarded funding for this project.

SOCRATES will shield the electromagnetic spectrum, of vital strategic importance to ensure continuity of services such as GPS or cellular networks. (Image credit: IMDEA Networks Institute)

The ElectroSense non-profit association of Switzerland (a crowd-sourcing initiative that collects and analyses spectrum data) and Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven of Belgium are the two other collaborating partners on the project. The study will be concluded by May 2021.

The security of the electromagnetic spectrum is of immense strategic significance to the society in the 21st century. Specifically crucial is the wireless infrastructure carrying services such as GPS and cellular networks. However, currently, commodity radio technology prices are so low that access to the technology is not restricted to network operators and governments anymore. At present, even individuals can afford this technology, enabling them to turn as malicious intruders. More advanced and more frequent threats from such infiltrators could create chaos and are one of the most serious difficulties faced by society. For instance, the operation of networks used by police, air traffic control systems, and security and emergency services, could be threatened by unauthorized transmissions. The SOCRATES project will offer a security system to guard the electromagnetic environment and the services and users relying on it.

Dr Domenico Giustiniano, Research Associate Professor at IMDEA Networks Institute who is coordinating the project, offers a summary of the project: “SOCRATES will provide an accurate, autonomous, fast and secure system based on a novel and disruptive IoT (Internet of Things) architecture. By detecting and locating unusual RF signal and source activity it will identify intruders in the electromagnetic space, before a threat can become serious, learning about its physical layer features and its geographic location.”

The researcher described his institute’s contribution to the project, stating, “IMDEA Networks will lead the investigation of the quality of spectrum sensors in a crowdsourced system, challenged by the large amount of data processed by the system, and of the distributed localization of emitters, challenged by the lack of synchronization among the spectrum sensors—two areas in which we build upon our extensive expertise.”

The SOCRATES solution will have to be appropriate for real-world implementations. Giustiniano explained the ways in which this will be accomplished.

We plan to test the SOCRATES system in controlled and realistic conditions, operating in both licensed and unlicensed spectra. Real experiments will showcase the system’s ability to detect the waveforms and wireless technologies of adversaries who are misusing wireless resources. We’ll also demonstrate how the physical location of an intruder can be swiftly identified. Adopting an agile approach, we’ll build, demonstrate and showcase early prototypes throughout the project.

Dr Domenico Giustiniano, Research Associate Professor, IMDEA Networks Institute.

SOCRATES (Large Scale Collaborative Detection and Location of Threats in the Electromagnetic Space, Grant G5461) offers the capability to detect, identify, and locate prospective threats to electromagnetic infrastructure security, thereby signifying a crucial step in ensuring society’s willingness to effectively respond to them. SOCRATES will guard economic and social structures from those who would put them to jeopardy.

SOCRATES PROJECT: Spotting and stopping the spectrum saboteurs

Video cap: Short PR video about the SOCRATES project. (Video credit: IMDEA Networks Institute)


  1. Wolfgang Einstein Wolfgang Einstein United States says:

    Security breaches are such an important factor to focus on in this industry.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of

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