Probably wireless

September 3, 2008

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) used to detect and report events including hurricanes, earthquakes, and forest fires and for military surveillance and antiterrorist activities are prone to subterfuge. In the International Journal of Security and Networks, computer scientists at Florida Atlantic University describe a new antihacking system to protect WSNs.

Feng Li, Avinash Srinivasan, and Jie Wu explain that there are two types of cyber-sabotage that might occur on a WSN. The first is the fabricated report with false votes attack in which phony data is sent to the base station with forged validation. This presents the authorities monitoring a WSN for impending disaster with a quandary: if the data arriving from the network is validated but false, how can they know for sure?

The second kind of attack adds false validation votes to genuine incoming data. The problem facing those monitoring the WSN now is if genuine data is being labeled as false, how to trust any data arriving from the WSN.

Li and colleagues point out that most existing WSN systems have built-in software on the network that can ward off the first kind of attack so that false data usually cannot be given valid credentials and those monitoring the system will be able to spot subterfuge easily. However, WSNs are not usually protected against the second kind of attack, so that a genuine impending disaster cannot be verified remotely, which defeats the purpose of a WSN.

The team has now devised a Probabilistic Voting-based Filtering Scheme (PVFS) to deal with both of these attacks simultaneously. They used a general en-route filtering scheme that can achieve strong protection against hackers while maintaining normal filtering to make the WSN viable.

The scheme breaks WSNs into clusters, and locks each cluster to a particular data encryption key. As data reaches headquarters from the WSN clusters, the main cluster-heads along the path checks the report together with the votes, acting as the verification nodes in PVFS. The verification node is set up so that it will not drop a report immediately it finds a false vote, instead it will simply record the result. Only when the number of verified false votes reaches a designed threshold will a report be dropped.

This way, should a saboteur compromise one or more sensors on any given WSN to launch an attack, the PVFS will apply probability rules to determine the likelihood that this has happened. It will do so based on data arriving from other sensors in different clusters before reporting incoming data as false.

Detecting compromised sensors in a WSN in this way is of vital important to homeland security as well as successfully tracking natural events with the potential to devastate cities. By countering sabotage, false alarms that waste response efforts could be minimized in times of impending crisis.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.

Radio frequency 'harvesting' tech unveiled in UK

September 30, 2015

An energy harvesting technology that its developers say will be able to turn ambient radio frequency waves into usable electricity to charge low power devices was unveiled in London on Wednesday.

Professors say US has fallen behind on offshore wind power

September 29, 2015

University of Delaware faculty from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), the College of Engineering and the Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics say that the U.S. has fallen behind in offshore wind ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.