Secure Time Synchronization

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In this project, we investigate techniques for secure time or clock synchronization in wireless networks. The use of time information in wireless networks ranges from enabling networking functions (i.e., position-based routing, forming low-power TDMA scheduling) to enabling applications (e.g., event detection and monitoring, emergency and rescue). Therefore, a number of time synchronization techniques have been proposed for pairwise and group node synchronization based on unidirectional and bidirectional techniques. However, time-synchronization techniques are highly vulnerable to signal manipulation attacks and we therefore explore the solution space for securing them.

We proposed or participated in the following proposals for secure time synchronization:

Secure broadcast localization and time synchronization:Secure time synchronization for navigation systems based on Integrity-coding

Secure time synchronization for sensor networks: Secure time synchronization in sensor networks based on delay estimations

Syssec members on the project:

  • Srdjan Capkun, Christina Pöpper, Kasper Bonne Rasmussen

Secure Broadcast Localization and Time Synchronization

We propose SecNav, a new protocol for securing wireless navigation systems. This protocol secures localization and time-synchronization in wireless networks by relying on devices’ awareness of presence in the power-range (coverage area) of navigation stations. We perform a detailed security analyzes of SecNav and we show that, compared to existing secure navigation approaches, it prevents the widest range of attacks on navigation.

Related publications:
- K. B. Rasmussen, S. Capkun, M. Cagalj
SecNav: Secure Broadcast Localization and Time Synchronization in Wireless Networks (extended abstract),
in Proceedings of ACM MobiCom 2007 [PDF (PDF, 664 KB)]
(related Technical Report 546, ETH Zürich, IFW, February 7, 2007. [PDF (PDF, 1.2 MB)])

Secure Time Synchronization for Sensor Networks

Time synchronization is critical in sensor networks at many layers of its design. It enables better duty-cycling of the radio, accurate and secure localization, beamforming, and other collaborative signal processing. These benefits make time synchronization protocols a prime target of malicious adversaries who want to disrupt the normal operation of a sensor network. In this paper, we analyze attacks on existing time synchronization protocols for wireless sensor networks. We propose first secure time synchronization protocols for sensor networks to counter these attacks. This toolbox includes protocols for secure pairwise and group synchronization of nodes that either lie in the neighborhood of each other or are separated by multiple hops. We provide an in-depth analysis of the security and the energy overhead of the proposed protocols. The efficiency of these protocols has been tested through a detailed experimental study on Mica2 Motes.

Related publications:

- S. Ganeriwal, Ch. Pöpper, S. Capkun, M. B. Srivastava,
Secure Time Synchronization in Sensor Networks,
in ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, July 2008 [PDF (PDF, 479 KB)]

- S. Ganeriwal, S. Capkun, S. Han, M. B. Srivastava,
Secure Time Synchronization Service for Sensor Networks,
in Proceedings of Wireless Security Workshop (WISE) 2005. [PDF (PDF, 271 KB)]

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