A framework for identifying compromised nodes in wireless sensor networks

Qing Zhang, Ting Yu, Peng Ning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)


Sensor networks are often subject to physical attacks. Once a node's cryptographic key is compromised, an attacker may completely impersonate it and introduce arbitrary false information into the network. Basic cryptographic mechanisms are often not effective in this situation. Most techniques to address this problem focus on detecting and tolerating false information introduced by compromised nodes. They cannot pinpoint exactly where the false information is introduced and who is responsible for it. In this article, we propose an application-independent framework for accurately identifying compromised sensor nodes. The framework provides an appropriate abstraction of application-specific detection mechanisms and models the unique properties of sensor networks. Based on the framework, we develop alert reasoning algorithms to identify compromised nodes. The algorithm assumes that compromised nodes may collude at will. We show that our algorithm is optimal in the sense that it identifies the largest number of compromised nodes without introducing false positives. We evaluate the effectiveness of the designed algorithm through comprehensive experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalACM Transactions on Information and System Security
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Intrusion detection
  • Sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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