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Journal of Information Science and Engineering, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 65-78 (January 2011)

Connectivity-Based Wormhole Detection in Ubiquitous Sensor Networks*

1School of Computer
National University of Defense Technology
Changsha, Hunan, P.R. China
2Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Kowloon, Hong Kong, P.R. China

Wormhole attack is a severe threat against ubiquitous sensor networks. It can be launched without compromising any legitimate node or cryptographic mechanisms, and often serves as a stepping stone for many serious attacks. Most existing countermeasures often make critical assumptions or require specialized hardware devices in the network. Those assumptions and requirements limit the applicability of previous approaches. In this work, we explore the impact of wormhole attacks on network connectivity topologies, and develop a simple distributed method to detect wormholes, called WormCircle. WormCircle relies solely on local connectivity information without any requirements on special hardware devices or making any rigorous assumptions on network properties. We establish the correctness of this design in continuous geometric domains and extend it into discrete networks. We evaluate the effectiveness in randomly deployed sensor networks through extensive simulations.

Keywords: wormhole attacks, connectivity, detection, security, sensor networks

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Received October 6, 2009; revised February 28, 2010; accepted June 7, 2010.
Communicated by Ren-Hung Hwang, Chung-Ming Huang, Cho-Li Wang, and Sheng-Tzong Cheng.
* This paper was partially supported by the NSFC/RGC Joint Research Scheme N_HKUST 602/08, the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) under Grant No. 2006CB303000, the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (863 Program) under Grants No. 2002AA1Z2101, No. 2007AA01Z177 and No. 2007AA01Z180, NSFC under Grants No. 60621003, No. 60903223 and No. 60903224.