Implementing Public-Key Infrastructure for Sensor Networks

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Implementing Public-Key Infrastructure for Sensor Networks

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Title: Implementing Public-Key Infrastructure for Sensor Networks
Author: Malan, David; Smith, Michael; Welsh, Matt

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Citation: Malan, David, Matt Welsh, and Michael D. Smith. 2008. Implementing public-key infrastructure for sensor networks. ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks 4(4): 22.
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Abstract: We present a critical evaluation of the first known implementation of elliptic curve cryptography over F2p for sensor networks based on the 8-bit, 7.3828-MHz MICA2 mote. We offer, along the way, a primer for those interested in the field of cryptography for sensor networks. We discuss, in particular, the decisions underlying our design and alternatives thereto. And we elaborate on the methodologies underlying our evaluation.

Through instrumentation of UC Berkeley's TinySec module, we argue that, although symmetric cryptography has been tractable in this domain for some time, there has remained a need, unfulfilled until recently, for an efficient, secure mechanism for distribution of secret keys among nodes. Although public-key infrastructure has been thought impractical, we show, through analysis of our original implementation for TinyOS of point multiplication on elliptic curves, that public-key infrastructure is indeed viable for TinySec keys' distribution, even on the MICA2. We demonstrate that public keys can be generated within 34 seconds and that shared secrets can be distributed among nodes in a sensor network within the same time, using just over 1 kilobyte of SRAM and 34 kilobytes of ROM. We demonstrate that communication costs are minimal, with only 2 packets required for transmission of a public key among nodes. We make available all of our source code for other researchers to download and use. And we discuss recent results based on our work that corroborate and improve upon our conclusions.
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