Security in Wireless Ad Hoc Networks

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Security in Wireless Ad Hoc Networks

Research Proposal


Executive Summary

The primary objective of this research proposal is to investigate security and vulnerability issues in
wireless ad hoc networks. Towards the realization of this objective, the goals
of the proposal are to:




Survey the wireless ad hoc network landscape to determine the types, architectures,
technologies, protocols, and standards.



Investigate protocol vulnerabilities and determine the security concerns generic to ad hoc
networks as wel
l as those specific to particular types of ad hoc networks.


The project will be carried out at CITEL headquarters. The duration of the project is four months from
January

200
7

to
April

2007.

The rest of the proposal outline
s the background, research plan

and deliverables.
.


1. Background


Wireless networks with limited or no infrastructure

There has been tremendous interest in recent years in the design and deployment of wireless
networks “
on the fly
”, that is, wireless networks that require limited or no

infrastructure to support data
transmission among the network nodes. Examples of such wireless networks include WiFi ad hoc
networks, wireless sensor networks and some types of wireless mesh networks. The rapid
penetration of lightweight devices such as P
DAs, sensor devices, Bluetooth devices, laptops and
palmtops into the wireless market have opened up a number of application possibilities for such
networks.


Application areas where these networks can be deployed include, but are not limited to, the follo
wing:



Environmental monitoring



measurement of temperature/humidity, collection of pollution data,
detection of chemical agents, remote monitoring in inhospitable areas such as in nuclear power
plants.



Health Care



Patient monitoring and distribution of
critical clinical care data in hospitals, pre
-
hospital and post
-
hospital home health care.



Agriculture



Sensor devices in plants and devices for monitoring.



Military


Forces on the battlefield creating a tactical network in unfamiliar territory for
disse
mination and monitoring of situation awareness information.



Emergency disaster relief and rescue

-

Collection and dissemination of information after a
storm or an earthquake, especially when the wired communication infrastructure is destroyed and
restoring

communication quickly becomes crucial.



Construction
-

Monitoring of weaknesses in building structures.



Collaborative computing



video and audio conferencing, groupware applications.



Entertainment

Multi
-
user games.



Ubiquitous computing environments


peo
ple at home or at work can interact with a variety of
interconnected devices.



Vehicular ad hoc networks



Automotive networks to disseminate information about traffic and
weather conditions, congestions, accident warnings, traffic flow regulation.


Termino
logy and Classification

The literature in the public domain contains a plethora of different types of wireless networks with
limited infrastructure. There are also different interpretations of the terms “ad hoc”, “mesh”, and
-

2

-

“sensor” networks. In an attemp
t to provide a bird’s eye view of the landscape of such networks and
also to clarify the design space for our research, we provide the following definitions.



A

wireless ad hoc network
is a wireless network in which no infrastructure such as a base stati
on is
required for inter
-
node communications. The network is usually multi
-
hop in nature, since inter
-
node
communications usually require multiple hops through other nodes. There are three broad types of
wireless ad hoc networks:

a)

Spontaneous Wireless Netw
orks
in which the network is formed on demand. These are
typically self
-
contained networks in the sense that they do not require outside
communications. Examples include Wi
-
Fi ad hoc a
nd Bluetooth networks
;

b)

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs)

in which a group

of low power sensor nodes interact
with each other and collectively send information to a base station which coordinates the
sensor nodes and also provides
outside communications
;

c)

Wireless Mesh Networks (WMesh)

which consist of a number of wireless netwo
rks
interconnected by a static backbone of wireless routers which facilita
te inter
-
network
communications.


Security Challenges

Providing security in ad hoc networks poses a number of challenges. These challenges arise from the
inherent characteristics of
such networks:

a)

Lack of infrastructure and dependence on intermediate nodes for routing

b)

High mobility of nodes

c)

Heterogeneity

d)

Limited resources


battery power, CPU, memory

e)

Physical vulnerability


A number of attacks, both passive and active, that can be la
unched on ad hoc networks have been
identified in the literature. These include:

a)

Eavesdropping by insertion of malicious nodes

b)

Node subversion in which an ad hoc node may be captured and its information compromised

c)

Denial of service attacks including jammi
ng, refusal to route messages, flooding.

d)

Traffic analysis attacks in which an attacker can disable the base station by monitoring traffic

e)

Sybil attack in which a malicious node takes on multiple identities and routes multiple paths.

f)

Node replication attack
s in which packets are corrupted or misrouted by replicating legitimate
nodes.

g)

Sinkhole attacks in which all the traffic from a particular area is diverted to a compromised or
malicious node.

h)

Wormhole attacks in which the adversary tunnels messages receive
d in one part of the
network over a low latency link and replays them in a different part.

i)

Key management attacks in which a group key is compromised by the presence of malicious
nodes.


2.
Research Plan and Deliverables


This research project will investi
gate the challenges and issues in deploying ad hoc systems in a
secure manner.


The scientific approach adopted in this research project is a combination of survey of literature and
products, investigation of security holes,
and
id
entification of vulnerabi
lities
. The following figure
depicts the research steps.

STEP 1: Survey of ad hoc network types, protocols, technologies and products.

STEP 2: Survey of ad hoc network security analysis and vulnerability issues

-

3

-

Deliverables

Deliverable 1:


February 28, 200
7

Survey report on wireless ad hoc networks: types, technologies, applications, protocols, products.


Deliverable 2:


April 30
, 2007

Vulnerability analysis of ad hoc networks: study of security issues in different types of ad hoc
networks