Secure data aggregation in wireless sensor networks

Alzaid, Hani Mohammed (2011) Secure data aggregation in wireless sensor networks. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


A Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) is a set of sensors that are integrated with a physical environment. These sensors are small in size, and capable of sensing physical phenomena and processing them. They communicate in a multihop manner, due to a short radio range, to form an Ad Hoc network capable of reporting network activities to a data collection sink. Recent advances in WSNs have led to several new promising applications, including habitat monitoring, military target tracking, natural disaster relief, and health monitoring. The current version of sensor node, such as MICA2, uses a 16 bit, 8 MHz Texas Instruments MSP430 micro-controller with only 10 KB RAM, 128 KB program space, 512 KB external ash memory to store measurement data, and is powered by two AA batteries. Due to these unique specifications and a lack of tamper-resistant hardware, devising security protocols for WSNs is complex. Previous studies show that data transmission consumes much more energy than computation. Data aggregation can greatly help to reduce this consumption by eliminating redundant data. However, aggregators are under the threat of various types of attacks. Among them, node compromise is usually considered as one of the most challenging for the security of WSNs. In a node compromise attack, an adversary physically tampers with a node in order to extract the cryptographic secrets. This attack can be very harmful depending on the security architecture of the network. For example, when an aggregator node is compromised, it is easy for the adversary to change the aggregation result and inject false data into the WSN. The contributions of this thesis to the area of secure data aggregation are manifold. We firstly define the security for data aggregation in WSNs. In contrast with existing secure data aggregation definitions, the proposed definition covers the unique characteristics that WSNs have. Secondly, we analyze the relationship between security services and adversarial models considered in existing secure data aggregation in order to provide a general framework of required security services. Thirdly, we analyze existing cryptographic-based and reputationbased secure data aggregation schemes. This analysis covers security services provided by these schemes and their robustness against attacks. Fourthly, we propose a robust reputationbased secure data aggregation scheme for WSNs. This scheme minimizes the use of heavy cryptographic mechanisms. The security advantages provided by this scheme are realized by integrating aggregation functionalities with: (i) a reputation system, (ii) an estimation theory, and (iii) a change detection mechanism. We have shown that this addition helps defend against most of the security attacks discussed in this thesis, including the On-Off attack. Finally, we propose a secure key management scheme in order to distribute essential pairwise and group keys among the sensor nodes. The design idea of the proposed scheme is the combination between Lamport's reverse hash chain as well as the usual hash chain to provide both past and future key secrecy. The proposal avoids the delivery of the whole value of a new group key for group key update; instead only the half of the value is transmitted from the network manager to the sensor nodes. This way, the compromise of a pairwise key alone does not lead to the compromise of the group key. The new pairwise key in our scheme is determined by Diffie-Hellman based key agreement.

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ID Code: 41843
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Refereed: No
Supervisor: Foo, Ernest & Gonzalez Nieto, Juan
Keywords: secure data aggregation, wireless sensor networks, performance analysis, security analysis, reputation systems, trust systems, node compromise, attacks, cryptographic-based solutions, reputation-based solutions, forward & backward secure key management, on-off attacks
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Institutes > Information Security Institute
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 May 2011 05:35
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 20:02

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