Key foisting and key stealing attacks in sensor networks
by Peng Wang; Chinya V. Ravishankar
International Journal of Sensor Networks (IJSNET), Vol. 22, No. 2, 2016

Abstract: We show how to establish cryptographic keys in sensor networks where neither public-key infrastructure (PKI) nor a trusted third party exists. We use a 'web-of-trust' model, establishing 'path' keys using pairwise trust relationships between intermediaries sharing preloaded keys. We first show how to defeat current schemes with key foisting, a devastating novel attack not described in the literature. Foisting compromises 90% of the path keys, when only 10% of the sensors in the network are seized. We then present a two-way path-key establishment scheme, and a highest random weight (HRW) based path-key establishment scheme to deal with key foisting, using mGKE as an illustrative example. Our schemes reduce the probability of successful key foisting to nearly zero even when 20% sensors are seized. Its overhead is affordable, and its resilience is excellent. We also discuss key foisting in general distributed systems.

Online publication date: Tue, 04-Oct-2016

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