Secure decentralised deployment of LoRaWAN sensors

McPherson, Ross and Irvine, James (2021) Secure decentralised deployment of LoRaWAN sensors. IEEE Sensors Journal, 21 (1). pp. 725-732. ISSN 1530-437X (

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Low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) technologies, such as LoRaWAN, have become a popular and cost-effective way of monitoring assets. Two considerations which still present a barrier to deployment are the cost of deployment and the potential cost and disruption of re-keying a compromised network. This loss of functionality from a compromised network has made security conscious industries reluctant to embrace LPWAN technology. This paper will address these concerns by simplifying the deployment and re-keying of LoRaWAN devices, by detailing a procedure which uses a smartphone’s camera flash to transfer the necessary credentials. Smartphones were chosen as a transfer mechanism since they are both abundant and suitably powerful to generate and transfer secure keys. Using smartphones and light also removes the need for a laptop, a wired connection and programming software, allowing devices to be provisioned out in the field without the need for calibration or specialised tools. The design was created and successfully programs sensor devices in variety of environments, and has demonstrated benefits to critical national infrastructure industries such as utilities.