Fully Distributed Authority-Based Key Management for Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

Dawoud S. Dawoud and Johann van der Merwe


Securing wireless mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs) is challenging due to the lack of centralized authority and poor onnectivity. Key management forms the basis for achieving many security objectives such as protecting routing protocols and private communications. We propose a novel key management scheme for MANETs that exploits mobility and the routing infrastructure to effectively manage security associations. Keying material propagates along virtual chains via a message relaying mechanism. We show that the proposed scheme results in a key management with low implementation complexity, ideally suited for stationary ad hoc networks and MANETs with low to high mobility. The proposed scheme uses mobility as an aid to fuel the rate of bootstrapping the routing security, but in contrast to existing schemes does not become dependent on mobility. The key dissemination occurs completely on-demand; security associations are only established, renewed or revoked as needed by the routing protocol and intrusion detection system. We show through simulations that the scheme‘s communication and computational overhead has negligible impact on network performance.

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