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Taejoon Park, Kang G. Shin

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Small low-cost sensor devices with limited resources are being used widely to build a self-organizing wireless network for various applications, such as situation monitoring and asset surveillance. Making such a sensor network secure is crucial to their intended applications, yet challenging due to the severe resource constraints in each sensor device. We present a lightweight security protocol (LiSP) that makes a tradeoff between security and resource consumption via efficient rekeying. The heart of the protocol is the novel rekeying mechanism that offers (1) efficient key broadcast without requiring retransmission/ACKs, (2) authentication for each key-disclosure without incurring additional overhead, (3) the ability of detecting/recovering lost keys, (4) seamless key refreshment without disrupting ongoing data encryption/decryption, and (5) robustness to inter-node clock skews. Furthermore, these benefits are preserved in conventional contention-based medium access control protocols that do not support reliable broadcast. Our performance evaluation shows that LiSP reduces resource consumption significantly, while requiring only three hash computations, on average, and a storage space for eight keys.