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Dynamic key management in sensor networks

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3 Author(s)
Eltoweissy, M. ; Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA ; Moharrum, M. ; Mukkamala, R.

Numerous key management schemes have been proposed for sensor networks. The objective of key management is to dynamically establish and maintain secure channels among communicating nodes. Desired features of key management in sensor networks include energy awareness, localized impact of attacks, and scaling to a large number of nodes. A primary challenge is managing the trade-off between providing acceptable levels of security and conserving scarce resources, in particular energy, needed for network operations. Many schemes, referred to as static schemes, have adopted the principle of key predistribution with the underlying assumption of a relatively static short-lived network (node replenishments are rare, and keys outlive the network). An emerging class of schemes, dynamic key management schemes, assumes long-lived networks with more frequent addition of new nodes, thus requiring network rekeying for sustained security and survivability. In this article we present a classification of key management schemes in sensor networks delineating their similarities and differences. We also describe a novel dynamic key management scheme, localized combinatorial keying (LOCK), and compare its security and performance with a representative static key management scheme. Finally, we outline future research directions.

Published in:

Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 4 )