A robust self-organized public key management for mobile ad hoc networks

Dahshan, Hisham M.K. and Irvine, J. (2010) A robust self-organized public key management for mobile ad hoc networks. Security and Communication Networks, 3 (1). pp. 16-30. ISSN 1939-0114

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    A mobile ad hoc network (MANET) is a self-organized wireless network where mobile nodes can communicate with each other without the use of any existing network infrastructure or centralized administration. Trust establishment and management are essential for any security framework of MANETs. However, traditional solutions to key management through accessing trusted authorities or centralized servers are infeasible for MANETs due to the absence of infrastructure, frequent mobility, and wireless link instability. In this paper, we propose a robust self-organized, public key management for MANETs. The proposed scheme relies on establishing a small number of trust relations between neighboring nodes during the network initialization phase. Experiences gained as a result of successful communications and node mobility through the network enhance the formation of a web of trust between mobile nodes. The proposed scheme allows each user to create its public key and the corresponding private key, to issue certificates to neighboring nodes, and to perform public key authentication through at least two independent certificate chains without relying on any centralized authority. A measure of the communications cost of the key distribution process has been proposed. Simulation results show that the proposed scheme is robust and efficient in the mobility environment of MANET and against malicious node attacks.