John T. Hagen

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Barry E. Mullins, PhD.


The Player project is an open-source effort providing a control interface specification and software framework for abstracting robot hardware. This research presents five exploits that compromise vulnerabilities in Player's command and control protocol. The attacks exploit weaknesses in the ARP, IP, TCP and Player protocols to compromise the confidentially, integrity, and availability of communication between a Player client and server. The attacks assume a laptop is connected in promiscuous mode to the same Ethernet hub as the client and server in order to sniff all network traffic between them. This work also demonstrates that Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is capable of mitigating the vulnerabilities discovered in Player's command and control protocol. Experimental results show that all five exploits are successful when Player communication is unprotected but are defeated when IPsec Authentication Header (AH) and Encapsulating Security Protocol (ESP) are deployed together (AH+ESP) in transport mode. A cost function is defined to synthesize three distinct scalar costs (exploit success, CPU utilization, and network load) into a single scalar output that can be used to compare the different defense protocols provided by IPsec. Results from this cost function show that in a scenario when exploits are likely, IPsec AH+ESP is the preferred defense protocol because of its relatively low CPU and network overhead and ability to defeat the exploits implemented in this research by authenticating and encrypting the transport and application layers. Performance data reveals that for the Overo Earth embedded system running a TI OMAP3530 processor at 720MHz, IPsec AH+ESP increases CPU utilization by 0.52% and the network load by 22.9Kbps (64.3% increase).

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