Security Challenges for Wireless Sensor Networks

Wireless Sensor Systems deployments are security sensitive and attacks against them may lead to damage to health and safety of people. The biggest treat to WSS is Denial-of-service attack. These attacks are conditions for hardware failures, resource exhaustion, bugs, malicious attacks and environmental conditions that could reduce the functionality or totally eliminating a networks ability to perform as expected. This is coupled with many vulnerabilities to the networks as studied by many researchers in the physical layer, media access control (MAC) layer, network layer, transport layer and application layer. For instance, the transport layer manages the end-to-end connections and can be attacked through flooding or desyncronization while the network layer’s attack is mostly due to the fact of neglect, greed, homing and monitoring. Collisions, unfairness and exhaustion attacks could be launched against the data link layer of a wireless sensor network through the MAC layer while the application layer may experience re-programming attacks and Path-based denial of service attack that are overwhelming in nature. Some solutions on how best to safe-guard the different networks and deal with DoS attacks and the different trade-offs are currently been implemented by the Wireless Sensor Network Group of the University of Aberdeen UK.

wireless sensor network security

WSN security expert, Celestine Iwendi explains the challenges with the diagram, that many security application developers are still concerned if WSS can actually be secured considering that messages can be intercepted based on what was sent, whom it was sent to, when the message was sent and where the message was sent from and to. They are also considering the level of integrity of the system in terms of the actions of the intruders to insert, delete and/or change the message that was sent. Another issue is to know how accurate the final information/message will be in the presence of denial of service attack on your network.

The research team is currently working on an enhanced security application aimed at developing a network that has efficient and flexible key distribution scheme secured enough to prevent algorithmic complexity and denial-of-service attacks while conserving energy. Their method involves a step-by-step levels of security key management which includes key Pre-allocation, key Pre-distribution, Rime routing protocol. These patterns of security networks can, when combined with reliable transport protocol, lead to high authentication and integrity of the network. The enhance security method is therefore expected to demonstrate even better secured network with the integration of IP-enabled WSS nodes.


About the Author

Celestine Iwendi is a Sensor and Electronics Researcher at the University of Aberdeen, UK