Security Enhancement of Wireless Sensor Networks Using Signal Intervals

Sensors (Basel). 2017 Apr 2;17(4):752. doi: 10.3390/s17040752.


Various wireless technologies, such as RF, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, have been applied to sensor communications. However, the applications of Bluetooth-based wireless sensor networks (WSN) have a security issue. In one pairing process during Bluetooth communication, which is known as simple secure pairing (SSP), the devices are required to specify I/O capability or user interference to prevent man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. This study proposes an enhanced SSP in which a nonce to be transferred is converted to a corresponding signal interval. The quantization level, which is used to interpret physical signal intervals, is renewed at every connection by the transferred nonce and applied to the next nonce exchange so that the same signal intervals can represent different numbers. Even if attackers eavesdrop on the signals, they cannot understand what is being transferred because they cannot determine the quantization level. Furthermore, the proposed model does not require exchanging passkeys as data, and the devices are secure in the case of using a fixed PIN. Subsequently, the new quantization level is calculated automatically whenever the same devices attempt to connect with each other. Therefore, the pairing process can be protected from MITM attacks and be convenient for users.

Keywords: Bluetooth; IoT; WPAN; signal interval; simple secure pairing; wireless sensor network.