Energy-efficient link-layer jamming attacks against wireless sensor network MAC protocols

Lodewijk van Hoesel, Yee Wei Law, Jeroen Doumen, Pieter Hartel, Paul Havinga

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    A typical wireless sensor node has little protection against radio jamming. The situation becomes worse if energy-efficient jamming can be achieved by exploiting knowledge of the data link layer. Encrypting the packets may help to prevent the jammer from taking actions based on the content of the packets, but the temporal arrangement of the packets induced by the nature of the protocol might unravel patterns that the jammer can take advantage of, even when the packets are encrypted. By looking at the packet interarrival times in three representative MAC protocols, S-MAC, LMAC and B-MAC, we derive several jamming attacks that allow the jammer to jam S-MAC, LMAC and B-MAC energy-efficiently. The jamming attacks are based on realistic assumptions. The algorithms are described in detail and simulated. The effectiveness and efficiency of the attacks are examined. In addition, we validate our simulation model by comparing its results with measurements obtained from implementation on sensor node prototypes. We show that it takes little effort to implement such effective jammers, making them a realistic treat. Careful analysis of other protocols belonging to the respective categories of S-MAC, LMAC and B-MAC reveals that those protocols are, to some extent, also susceptible to our attacks. The result of this investigation provides new insights into the security considerations of MAC protocols.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    PublisherCentre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT)
    Number of pages34
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006

    Publication series

    NameCTIT technical reports series
    PublisherUniversity of Twente, Centre for Telematica and Information Technology (CTIT)
    ISSN (Print)1381-3625


    • CAES-PS: Pervasive Systems
    • SCS-Cybersecurity


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