SPINS -Security Protocol For Sensor Network

As sensor networks edge closer towards wide-spread deployment, security issues become a central concern. Sensor networks have been identified as being useful in a variety of domains to include the battlefield and perimeter defense. So far, much research has focused on making sensor networks feasible and useful, and has not concentrated on security.We present a suite of security building blocks optimized for resource constrained environments and wireless communication. SPINS has two secure building blocks: SNEP and ήTESLA SNEP provides the following important baseline security primitives: Data confidentiality, two-party data authentication, and data freshness.A particularly hard problem is to provide efficient broadcast authentication, which is an important mechanism for sensor networks. ήTESLA is a new protocol which provides authenticated broadcast for severely resource-constrained environments. We implemented the above protocols, and show that they are practical even on minimal hardware: the performance of the protocol suite easily matches the data rate of our network.

Sensor Network Protocol Design and Implementation

Distibuted, wireless networks with limited resources

– Energy, energy, energy.

• Communication is expensive.

– Idle listening is the principal energy cost.

– Radio hardware transition times can be important.

– Low transmission rates can lower cost of idle listening.

• Nodes cannot maintain a lot of state.

– RAM is at a premium.


TAG: computes exact value, bound to a specific routing layer that is vulnerable to loss and requires complex synchronization– If it works right once, you get the precise answer.– Really hard to get to work right.

• ODI: computes estimate, decoupled from network layer, multipath makes it more resistant to loss, requires simple synchronization– Simple implementations can accurately compute estimate, many estimates needed for a precise answer

Implementation Experience

• TAG: implemented in TinyDB system

– Two months of work to get TinyDB to work in deployment.

– Very low data yield, no-one has been able to get it to work again (TASK project).

• ODI: a count query is 30 lines of code

– A few tricks: coarse time synchronization needed.

– Hasn’t been tested to the same degree as TAG

Design Considerations

Uncontrolled environment: simplicity is critical.

The world will find your edge conditions for you.

Simplicity and fault tolerance can be more important than raw performance.

Wireless channel: cheap broadcast primitive.

Protocols can take advantage of spatial redundancy.

Redundancy requires idempotency

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