Challenges and New Directions in Securing Spectrum Access Systems

Shanghao Shi, Yang Xiao, Wenjing Lou, Chonggang Wang, Xu Li, Y. Thomas Hou, Jeffrey H. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The spectrum access system (SAS) is being deployed as a key component of the emerging spectrum sharing paradigm to address the spectrum crunch facing the U.S. wireless industry. Ensuring security and privacy of this system against potential attacks is a task of paramount importance. In this article, we first introduce the SAS system, describing its three-tier access model, its functional architecture, and the spectrum management protocol. We then provide a comprehensive analysis of a variety of security and privacy attacks that an SAS is vulnerable to, and discuss their countermeasures. We identify key challenges, formalize threat models, and organize the discussion of SAS security into four categories: 1) SAS server security and privacy; 2) citizens broadband radio service device security; 3) security of environment sensing capability; and 4) communication protocol security. Finally, we suggest future research directions for spectrum management security.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9372931
Pages (from-to)6498-6518
Number of pages21
JournalIEEE Internet of Things Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received December 14, 2020; revised January 25, 2021; accepted February 19, 2021. Date of publication March 8, 2021; date of current version April 7, 2021. This work was supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant 2037777 and Grant 1916902; in part by the Army Research Office under Grant W911NF-20-1-0141; in part by the Virginia Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI); and a gift from InterDigital. (Corresponding author: Wenjing Lou.) Shanghao Shi and Wenjing Lou are with the Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24060 USA (e-mail:;

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 IEEE.


  • Citizens broadband radio service (CBRS)
  • security and privacy
  • spectrum access system (SAS)
  • spectrum management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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