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Secret key generation exploiting channel characteristics in wireless communications

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3 Author(s)
Kui Ren ; Illinois Inst. of Technol., Chicago, IL, USA ; Hai Su ; Qian Wang

Due to the broadcast nature of wireless channels, wireless communication is vulnerable to eavesdropping, message modification, and node impersonation. Securing the wireless communication requires the shared secret keys between the communicating entities. Traditional security schemes rely on public key infrastructures and cryptographic algorithms to manage secret keys. Recently, many physical-layer-based methods have been proposed as alternative solutions for key generation in wireless networks. These methods exploit the inherent randomness of the wireless fading channel to generate secret keys while providing information-theoretical security without intensive cryptographic computations. This article provides an overview of the existing PHY-based key generation schemes exploiting the randomness of the wireless channels. Specifically, we first introduce the fundamental and general framework of the PHY-based key generation schemes and then categorize them into two classes: received-signal-strength-based and channel- phase-based protocols. Finally, we present a performance comparison of them in terms of key disagreement probability, key generation rate, key bit randomness, scalability, and implementation issues.

Published in:

Wireless Communications, IEEE  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 4 )