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Monday, 22 February 2016

Security Issues in Wireless Sensor Networks - Attacks and Countermeasures


Wireless sensor networks are one of the most exciting and challenging research domains of our time. They have a great potential to be deployed in wide mission-critical applications, such as military monitoring, health care as well as civilian applications. The highly sensitive nature of collected information makes security in these special networks a crucial concern. Owing to the hostile nature of their deployment environments, the wireless medium and the constrained nature of resources on the tiny sensor devices used in such networks, security poses more severe challenges compared to the traditional networks. As attacks to any part of the hardware or software may gives significant damages to these networks. Indeed, the development of effective and efficient defense mechanisms to those attacks must be addressed at every stage of the system design.  This paper tends to outline the major aspects of wireless sensor networks security. We discuss some security attacks and their classification mechanisms. Some related works and proposed schemes concerning security in these networks are also discussed. And finally we conclude the paper delineating the research challenges and future trends toward the research in wireless sensor network security.  

Index Terms—wireless sensor networks, network attacks, security design challenges, symmetric and asymmetric cryptography. 


Wireless sensors networks have emerged as modern day technology under the push of recent technological advances in Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, wireless communications and digital electronics. Sensor node is a smart, tiny, self-organizing low cost multi-functional device, equipped with battery, radio communication, microcontroller and sensors. It has very limited processing capability, battery power, and memory and also a restricted field of sensing. A wireless sensor network (WSN) is application-specific, designed to monitor and control physical environments from remote locations with better accuracy. Therefore, multiple spatially distributed sensors nodes collaborate and in-network process collected information. They are connected to each other through short range wireless links, used as an infrastructure to forward the collected report to an authorized user-end over base station.  Indeed, WSNs gaining rapid worldwide attention because of their potentially low cost solutions to a variety of realworld challenges. Many other favoring factors of WSNs use are self-organizing, self-healing, having dynamic network topology to cope with node malfunctioning and failures, mobility of deployed nodes,  unattended operation, ability to withstand bad environmental conditions, heterogeneity of nodes, scalability, at the time of deployment and after deployment, as well easy use. WSNs have the potential to be deployed in mission-critical applications such as military surveillance, or medical applications, e.g., Body Area Network (BAN), where several low-cost nodes are attached to the human body to collect data and is periodically transferred to a sink node for further processing. Sink nodes are also often designed to work as gateways to transfer data to eHealth systems residing in the cloud. These BANs could be deployed in hospitals or at homes for ambient and assisted living monitoring elderly. Patient data is often categorized as high sensitive information that must be transferred in an encrypted form and nobody can inject faked data as this can have serious impacts. Indeed, securing WSNs is of paramount importance in order to protect the sensitive data involved. This necessity of effective and efficient security techniques to secure sensor networks has attracted a great deal in the recent years.  

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In section II we summarize the major design obstacles for the sensor networks security. In section III the requirements of WSNs security are listed. The major threats and attacks against these networks are categorized in section IV, and we outline the corresponding defensive measures in section V. Finally, section VI points out our future observation and concludes the paper. 


WSNs have many constraints from which new challenges stand out. The extreme resource limitations of sensor nodes and unreliable communication medium in unattended environments make it very difficult to directly employ the existing security approaches on a sensor platform due to the complexity of the algorithms. Indeed, the understanding of these challenges within WSNs provides a basis for further works on sensor networks security.....

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