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Location-Aware Combinatorial Key Management Scheme for Clustered Sensor Networks
August 2006 (vol. 17 no. 8)
pp. 865-882

Abstract—Recent advances in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are fueling the interest in their application in a wide variety of sensitive settings such as battlefield surveillance, border control, and infrastructure protection. Data confidentiality and authenticity are critical in these settings. However, the wireless connectivity, the absence of physical protection, the close interaction between WSNs and their physical environment, and the unattended deployment of WSNs make them highly vulnerable to node capture as well as a wide range of network-level attacks. Moreover, the constrained energy, memory, and computational capabilities of the employed sensor nodes limit the adoption of security solutions designed for wire-line and wireless networks. In this paper, we focus on the management of encryption keys in large-scale clustered WSNs. We propose a novel distributed key management scheme based on Exclusion Basis Systems (EBS); a combinatorial formulation of the group key management problem. Our scheme is termed SHELL because it is Scalable, Hierarchical, Efficient, Location-aware, and Light-weight. Unlike most existing key management schemes for WSNs, SHELL supports rekeying and, thus, enhances network security and survivability against node capture. SHELL distributes key management functionality among multiple nodes and minimizes the memory and energy consumption through trading off the number of keys and rekeying messages. In addition, SHELL employs a novel key assignment scheme that reduces the potential of collusion among compromised sensor nodes by factoring the geographic location of nodes in key assignment. Simulation results demonstrate that SHELL significantly boosts the network resilience to attacks while conservatively consuming nodes' resources.

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Index Terms:
Wireless sensor networks, secure group communications, key management, location-aware protocols, exclusion basis systems, combinatorial optimization, energy efficient design, collusion attacks.
Citation:
Mohamed F. Younis, Kajaldeep Ghumman, Mohamed Eltoweissy, "Location-Aware Combinatorial Key Management Scheme for Clustered Sensor Networks," IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, vol. 17, no. 8, pp. 865-882, Aug. 2006, doi:10.1109/TPDS.2006.106
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