A pairwise key pre-distribution scheme for wireless sensor networks

Wenliang Du, Yunghsiang S. Han, Jing Deng, Pramod K. Varshney

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review

923 Scopus citations


To achieve security in wireless sensor networks, it is important to be able to encrypt and authenticate messages sent among sensor nodes. Keys for encryption and authentication purposes must be agreed upon by communicating nodes. Due to resource constraints, achieving such key agreement in wireless sensor networks is nontrivial. Many key agreement schemes used in general networks, such as Diffie-Hellman and public-key based schemes, are not suitable for wireless sensor networks. Pre-distribution of secret keys for all pairs of nodes is not viable due to the large amount of memory used when the network size is large. To solve the key predistribution problem, two elegant key pre-distribution approaches have been proposed recently [11, 7]. In this paper, we propose a new key pre-distribution scheme, which substantially improves the resilience of the network compared to the existing schemes. Our scheme exhibits a nice threshold property: when the number of compromised nodes is less than the threshold, the probability that any nodes other than these compromised nodes is affected is close to zero. This desirable property lowers the initial payoff of smaller scale network breaches to an adversary, and makes it necessary for the adversary to attack a significant proportion of the network. We also present an in depth analysis of our scheme in terms of network resilience and associated overhead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-51
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
StatePublished - 2003
EventProceedings of the 10th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2003 - Washington, DC, United States
Duration: Oct 27 2003Oct 31 2003


  • Key pre-distribution
  • Security
  • Wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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