Towards event source unobservability with minimum network traffic in sensor networks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

162 Scopus citations


Sensors deployed to monitor the surrounding environment report such information as event type, location, and time when a real event of interest is detected. An adversary may identify the real event source through eavesdropping and traffic analysis. Previous work has studied the source location privacy problem under a local adversary model. In this work, we aim to provide a stronger notion: event source unobservability, which promises that a global adversary cannot know whether a real event has ever occurred even if he is capable of collecting and analyzing all the messages in the network at all the time. Clearly, event source unobservability is a desirable and critical security property for event monitoring applications, but unfortunately it is also very difficult and expensive to achieve for resource-constrained sensor networks. Our main idea is to introduce carefully chosen dummy traffic to hide the real event sources in combination with mechanisms to drop dummy messages to prevent explosion of network traffic. To achieve the latter, we select some sensors as proxies that proactively filter dummy messages on their way to the base station. Since the problem of optimal proxy placement is NP-hard, we employ local search heuristics. We propose two schemes (i) Proxy-based Filtering Scheme (PFS) and (ii) Tree-based Filtering Scheme (TFS) to accurately locate proxies. Simulation results show that our schemes not only quickly find nearly optimal proxy placement, but also significantly reduce message overhead and improve message delivery ratio. A prototype of our scheme was implemented for TinyOS-based Mica2 motes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWiSec'08
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 1st ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2008
EventWiSec'08: 1st ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security - Alexandria, VA, United States
Duration: Mar 31 2008Apr 2 2008

Publication series

NameWiSec'08: Proceedings of the 1st ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security


OtherWiSec'08: 1st ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAlexandria, VA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Software


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