A System-Theoretic Clean Slate Approach to Provably Secure Ad-Hoc Wireless Networking Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014 IEEE. Traditionally, wireless network protocols have been designed for performance. Subsequently, as attacks have been identified, patches have been developed. This has resulted in an 'arms race' development process of discovering vulnerabilities and then patching them. The fundamental difficulty with this approach is that other vulnerabilities may still exist. No provable security or performance guarantees can ever be provided. We develop a system-theoretic approach to security that provides a complete protocol suite with provable guarantees, as well as proof of min-max optimality with respect to any given utility function of source-destination rates. Our approach is based on a model capturing the essential features of an ad-hoc wireless network that has been infiltrated with hostile nodes. We consider any collection of nodes, some good and some bad, possessing specified capabilities vis-a-vis cryptography, wireless communication, and clocks. The good nodes do not know the bad nodes. The bad nodes can collaborate perfectly, and are capable of any disruptive acts ranging from simply jamming to noncooperation with the protocols in any manner they please. The protocol suite caters to the complete life cycle, all the way from the birth of nodes, through all phases of ad-hoc network formation, leading to an optimized network carrying data reliably. It provably achieves the min-max of the utility function, where the max is over all protocol suites published and followed by the good nodes, while the min is over all Byzantine behaviors of the bad nodes. Under the protocol suite, the bad nodes do not benefit from any actions other than jamming or cooperating. This approach supersedes much of the previous work that deals with several types of attacks including wormhole, rushing, partial deafness, routing loops, routing black holes, routing gray holes, and network partition attacks.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Ponniah, J., Hu, Y., & Kumar, P. R.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Ponniah, Jonathan||Hu, Yih-Chun||Kumar, PR

publication date

  • June 2016