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In certain applications, the locations of events reported by a sensor network need to remain anonymous. That is, unauthorized observers must be unable to detect the origin of such events by analyzing the network traffic. Known as the source anonymity problem, this problem has emerged as an important topic in the security of wireless sensor networks, with variety of techniques based on different adversarial assumptions being proposed. In this work, we present a new framework for modeling, analyzing, and evaluating anonymity in sensor networks. The novelty of the proposed framework is twofold: first, it introduces the notion of "interval indistinguishability” and provides a quantitative measure to model anonymity in wireless sensor networks; second, it maps source anonymity to the statistical problem of binary hypothesis testing with nuisance parameters. We then analyze existing solutions for designing anonymous sensor networks using the proposed model. We show how mapping source anonymity to binary hypothesis testing with nuisance parameters leads to converting the problem of exposing private source information into searching for an appropriate data transformation that removes or minimize the effect of the nuisance information. By doing so, we transform the problem from analyzing real-valued sample points to binary codes, which opens the door for coding theory to be incorporated into the study of anonymous sensor networks. Finally, we discuss how existing solutions can be modified to improve their anonymity.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013