Attack-Resistant Location Estimation in Sensor Networks

Dongdang Liu, University of Texas at Arlington
Peng Ning, North Carolina State University
Wenliang Kevin Du, Syracuse University, Department of EECS


Many sensor network applications require sensors ’ locations to function correctly. Despite the recent advances, location discovery for sensor networks in hostile environments has been mostly overlooked. Most of the existing localization protocols for sensor networks are vulnerable in hostile environments. The security of location discovery can certainly be enhanced by authentication. However, the possible node compromises and the fact that location determination uses certain physical features (e.g., received signal strength) of radio signals make authentication not as effective as in traditional security applications. This paper presents two methods to tolerate malicious attacks against beacon-based location discovery in sensor networks. The first method filters out malicious beacon signals on the basis of the “consistency ” among multiple beacon signals, while the second method tolerates malicious beacon signals by adopting an iteratively refined voting scheme. Both methods can survive malicious attacks even if the attacks bypass authentication, provided that the benign beacon signals constitute the majority of the beacon signals. This paper also presents the implementation of these techniques on MICA2 motes running TinyOS, and the evaluation through both simulation and field experiments. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed methods are promising for the current generation of sensor networks.