A Robust and Lightweight Key Management Protocol for WSNs in Distributed IoT Applications

A Robust and Lightweight Key Management Protocol for WSNs in Distributed IoT Applications

Muhammad Rana (School of Computing and Mathematics, Charles Sturt University, Australia) and Quazi Mamun (Charles Sturt University, Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSSP.2018100101


To maintain the reliable connectivity and the accessibility of distributed IoT, it is vital to establish secure links for end-to-end communication with a robust pervasive communication mechanism. However, due to the resource constraints and heterogeneous characteristics of the sensor devices, traditional authentication and key management schemes are not effective for such applications. Here, we propose a pervasive lightweight authentication and keying mechanism for WSNs in distributed IoT applications in which the sensor nodes can establish secure links with peer sensor nodes and end-users. The established authentication scheme is based on implicit certificates, and it provides application-level end-to-end security. A comprehensive description of the scenario based behaviour of the protocol is presented. With the performance evaluation and the security analysis, it is justified that the proposed scheme is viable to deploy in the resource constrained WSNs.
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1. Introduction

Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) is a substantial element of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is considered the future evolution of the Internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) devices are becoming more widespread in several domains like e-Health, e-Commerce and e-Trafficking (Walters, Liang, Shi, & Chaudhary, 2007). The interconnected device networks can create a large number of intelligent and autonomous applications and services that can bring massive personal, professional and economic interests (“IEEE Standard for Low-Rate Wireless,” 2011). However, WSN and its security aspects are not only well investigated amongst the industry and academia but also recognized with standardised solutions for the safety (Jindal & Verma, 2015; Weber, 2010; Gubbi, Buyya, Marusic, & Palaniswami, 2013). Though the concept and applications of IoT are not innovative any longer, IoT security is still in its early stages. A significant amount of research work has been conducted to recognise the challenges and potential protection mechanisms for securing IoT, which are presented throughout references (Brachmann, Keoh, Morchon, & Kumar, 2012; Roman, Zhou, & Lopez, 2013; Kushalnagar, Montenegro, & Schumacher, 2007; Montenegro, Kushalnagar, Hui, & Culler, 2007). Nonetheless, IoT security protocols are still neither standardised nor appropriately commercialised due to its novelty and immaturity.

WSN architectures, in the context of IoT application domains, exist as centralised and distributed approaches (Roman, Zhou, & Lopez, 2013). In the centralised method, a central unit is accountable for acquiring raw data from the sensors, processing received data into information and format and providing information for other required entities. In such centralised networks, there is little or no support to access the data sensing network devices directly (Shelby, Hartke, & Bormann, 2013). On the other hand, the distributed networks allow the end-users and other network entities to obtain raw data directly from the sensor nodes. Contrasting to the centralised approach, in a distributed architecture, the edge network devices encompass high-level intelligence and processing power, which helps connect to the end-sensor node’s neighbourhood securely and transparently (Winter et al., 2012; Islam, Shen, & Wang, 2006). Distributed network scheme is the most suitable one when we need scalability (Hossain, Fotouhi, & Hasan, 2015).

WSN requires adapting IP technologies to produce seamless and global connectivity with the Internet (Kushalnagar, Montenegro, & Schumacher, 2007). The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has contributed to gain that pervasive connectivity of small objects to IPv6 based Internet. Low Wireless Personal Area Networks (LoWPAN) are low-cost communication networks, which use low power and comfortable throughput to allow wireless connectivity between the devices (“IEEE 802.15.4 Low Rate Wireless,” 2011). IPv6 over low power wireless personal area network (6LoWPAN) enables total integration of WSNs into the Internet (Al-Janabi & Al-Raweshidy, 2017; Emanuele et al., 2018). The Constrained Application Protocol is a transfer protocol for constrained nodes and networks (Sahraoui & Bilami, 2014). Routing protocol for Low-power Lossy Networks is a routing protocol, which is specially design for Low power and Lossy Networks that can work with the 6LoWPAN (Rajput & Kumaravelu, 2017). Constrained Application Protocol and Routing Protocol for Low-Power Lossy Networks are proposed for application layer and network layer routing in constrained IoT networks (“IEEE 802.15.4 Low Rate Wireless,” 2011; Bormann, Castellani, & Shelby, 2012). Physical and MAC layers of low power networks are defined by IEEE 802.15.4 protocol (Weber, 2010).

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