Title page for ETD etd-12022004-212342

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hager, Creighton Tsuan-Ren
Author's Email Address chager@vt.edu
URN etd-12022004-212342
Title Context Aware and Adaptive Security for Wireless Networks
Degree PhD
Department Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Midkiff, Scott F. Committee Chair
Brown, Ezra A. Committee Member
DaSilva, Luiz A. Committee Member
Davis, Nathaniel J. IV Committee Member
Martin, Thomas L. Committee Member
  • performance evaluation
  • block ciphers
  • energy efficiency
  • analytic hierarchy process
Date of Defense 2004-11-30
Availability unrestricted
This research investigated methods to determine appropriate security protocols for specific wireless network applications. The specific problem being addressed was that there are tradeoffs between security, performance, and efficiency among current and proposed security protocols. Performance and efficiency issues are particularly important in wireless networks which tend to have constrained network capacity and connect to resource-limited nodes. Existing security protocols address problems such as authentication, availability, confidentiality, integrity, and non-repudiation. However, these protocols use resources and limit the efficient use of node resources. Thus, the overall objective of this research is to improve the efficiency of security mechanisms for wireless networks.

A methodology was constructed to satisfy this objective and is an important contribution of this research. The methodology can be used to define the relevant operational parameters of different wireless network applications, classify wireless networks into distinct categories, incorporate appropriate security protocols to a category, and analyze the security protocols through metrics. Three groups of operational parameters were created to classify wireless networks; these are equipment, network topology, and communication characteristics. The wireless network categories include, but are not limited to, fixed broadband wireless networks, wireless local area networks, mobile ad hoc networks, and small device sensor networks. The metrics in the methodology are used to measure end-to-end data throughput and delay, efficiency and overhead, power and energy consumption, and energy consumed per packet transferred.

The main advantage of this methodology is the flexibility of how constraints are considered and suitability is analyzed. This approach can identify problems from manageable categories of networks and find or create solutions for each of them. Another advantage of this methodology is that after suitable security protocols are found or created for each category, any new wireless network application that falls into an existing category may be able to use the security protocols from that category and find that they are the most suitable.

Another key contribution of this research was the implementation and evaluation of a context aware and adaptive security manager (CASM) that selects appropriate protocols in real-time. CASM was developed using the methodology as a guide. Results from a resource analysis of four encryption algorithms were utilized for the design of CASM. A feasibility study of CASM was then completed. Three different experimental scenarios were used to evaluate CASM's operation. The results and analysis of the experiments indicate that the security manager functions properly and security is provided efficiently with different user settings and environments. Three schemes were deemed the best to use for the decision module of CASM.

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