Robust key generation from signal envelopes in wireless networks

Babak Azimi-Sadjadi, Aggelos Kiayias, Alejandra Mercado, Bülent Yener

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

Abstract / Description of output

The broadcast nature of a wireless link provides a natural eavesdropping and intervention capability to an adversary. Thus, securing a wireless link is essential to the security of a wireless network, and key generation algorithms are necessary for securing wireless links. However, traditional key agreement algorithms can be very costly in many settings, e.g. in wireless ad-hoc networks, since they consume scarce resources such as bandwidth and battery power.

Traditional key agreement algorithms are not suitable for wireless ad-hoc networks since they consume scarce resources such as bandwidth and battery power.

This paper presents a novel approach that couples the physical layer characteristics of wireless networks with key generation algorithms. It is based on the wireless communication phenomenon known as the principle of reciprocity which states that in the absence of interference both transmitter and receiver experience the same signal envelope. The key-observation here is that the signal envelope information can provide to the two transceivers two correlated random sources that provide sufficient amounts of entropy which can be used to extract a cryptographic key. In contrast, it is virtually impossible for a third party, which is not located at one of the transceiver's position, to obtain or predict the exact envelope; thus retrieve the key. Since in the presence of interference strict reciprocity property can not be maintained; our methodology is based on detecting deep fades to extract correlated bitstrings. In particular, we show how a pair of transceivers can reconcile such bitstrings and finally flatten their distribution to reach key agreement. In our constructions we use cryptographic tools related to randomness extraction and information reconciliation. We introduce "secure fuzzy information reconciliators" a tool that enables us to describe robust key generation systems in our setting. Finally we provide a computational study that presents a simulation of a wireless channel that demonstrates the feasibility of our approach and justifies the assumptions made in our analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2007 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2007, Alexandria, Virginia, USA, October 28-31, 2007
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-59593-703-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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