Physical-Layer Security in Free-Space Optical Communications

The communication between two legitimate peers in the presence of an external eavesdropper is studied from a physical-layer security perspective in the context of free-space optical (FSO)communications. We discuss viable mechanisms to eavesdrop the communication and study the effect of random optical irradiance fluctuations inherent to FSO communications on the probability of achieving a secure transmission.

We observe that the joint effect of laser-beam divergence and turbulence-induced fading on the received irradiance, under certain conditions, allows an external eavesdropper close to the legitimate receiver to compromise the communication. Interestingly, we also observe that an eavesdropper placed close to the legitimate transmitter can easily compromise the communicationby taking advantage of the larger attenuation suffered by the signal when propagating through the FSO link.

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