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The handover procedure in secure communication wireless networks is an extremely time-consuming phase, and it represents a critical issue in relation to the time constraints required by certain real-time traffic applications. In particular, in the case of the IEEE 802.1X model, most of the time required for a handover is used for packet exchanges that are required for authentication protocols, such as Extensible Authentication Protocol Transport Layer Security (EAP-TLS), that require an eight-way handshake. Designing secure re-authentication protocols to reduce the number of packets required during a handover is an open issue that is gaining interest with the advent of a pervasive model of networking that requires realtime traffic and mobility. This article presents the 802.1X model and evaluates its application to ad hoc networks based on IEEE 802.11 i or IEEE 802.1 be standards, focusing on the problems that must be evaluated when designing handover procedures, and suggesting guidelines for securing handover procedures. It also presents a novel protocol to perform secure handovers that is respectful of the previous analysis and that has been implemented in a mesh environment.
Date of Publication: October 2007