An Analysis into Physical and Virtual Power Draw Characteristics of Embedded Wireless Sensor Network Devices under DoS and RPL-Based Attacks

Sensors (Basel). 2023 Feb 27;23(5):2605. doi: 10.3390/s23052605.


Currently, within the world, cybercrime is becoming increasingly rampant-often targeting civil infrastructure like power stations and other critical systems. A trend that is being noticed with these attacks is their increased use of embedded devices in denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. This creates a substantial risk to systems and infrastructures worldwide. Threats to embedded devices can be significant, and network stability and reliability can suffer, mainly through the risk of battery draining or complete system hang. This paper investigates such consequences through simulations of excessive loads, by staging attacks on embedded devices. Experimentation within Contiki OS focused on loads placed on physical and virtualised wireless sensor network (WSN) embedded devices by launching DoS attacks and by exploiting the Routing Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks (RPL). Results from these experiments were based on the metric of power draw, mainly the percentage increase over baseline and the pattern of it. The physical study relied on the output of the inline power analyser and the virtual study relied on the output of a Cooja plugin called PowerTracker. This involved experiments on both physical and virtual devices, and analysis of the power draws characteristics of WSN devices with a focus on embedded Linux platforms and Contiki OS. Experimental results provide evidence that peak power draining occurs with a malicious-node-to-sensor device ratio of 13-to-1. Results show a decline in power usage with a more expansive 16-sensor network after modelling and simulating a growing sensor network within the Cooja simulator.

Keywords: DoS attack; RPL; power draw attack; wireless sensor network.

Grant support

This research received no external funding.