Security in Unattended Wireless Sensor Networks

Gene Tsudik, University of California, Irvine

Since late 1990-s, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) have been an object of much attention, interest and hype in several research communities, including embedded systems, networking and security. Envisaged applications involve WSNs where nodes (sensors) collectively monitor/measure certain physical phenomena. Sensed data is then propagated to a centralized collection point – referred to as a “sink”– that usually also performs network management and control functions. The sink’s constant presence and availability form a key part of WSN operation.

This talk will show that some emerging WSN scenarios preclude sink’s constant presence. Anticipated application domains include military, law enforcement, and critical infrastructure protection. In such settings, nodes must accumulate sensed data until it can be off-loaded to an itinerant sink. Unattended Wireless Sensor Networks (UWSNs) pose a number of new research issues. In particular, security challenges arise if the deployment environment is hostile and sensors are subject to compromise. Notably, the UWSN model motivates a new stealthy mobile adversary model. Absence of an on-line trusted sink coupled with the power of the new adversary, make prior security techniques ineffective in UWSN settings. This talk will overview a number of potential threats posed by the UWSN adversary and sketch out some solutions that involve collaborative self-healing techniques.

Time permitting, this talk will also touch upon a few other research directions in security and applied cryptography.

Speaker Biography

Gene Tsudik is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from USC in 1991 for research on firewalls and Internet access control. Before coming to UCI in 2000, he was a Project Leader at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory (1991-1996) and USC Information Science Institute (1996-2000). Over the years, his research interests included: routing, firewalls, authentication, mobile networks, secure e-commerce, anonymity ad privacy, group communication, digital signatures, key management, mobile ad hoc networks, as well as database privacy and secure storage. He is currently serving as the Director of Secure Computing and Networking Center (SCONCE) at UCI and the Vice-Chair of the Computer Science Department. In 2007, he was on sabbatical at the University of Rome as a Fulbright Senior Scholar. Since 2009, he is the Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Information and Systems Security (TISSEC).