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Sensors (Basel). 2011;11(2):1383-95. doi: 10.3390/s110201383. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

A study of IEEE 802.15.4 security framework for wireless body area networks.

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Graduate School of Information & Communication Engineering, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-gu, Incheon 402-751, Korea.


A Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) is a collection of low-power and lightweight wireless sensor nodes that are used to monitor the human body functions and the surrounding environment. It supports a number of innovative and interesting applications, including ubiquitous healthcare and Consumer Electronics (CE) applications. Since WBAN nodes are used to collect sensitive (life-critical) information and may operate in hostile environments, they require strict security mechanisms to prevent malicious interaction with the system. In this paper, we first highlight major security requirements and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks in WBAN at Physical, Medium Access Control (MAC), Network, and Transport layers. Then we discuss the IEEE 802.15.4 security framework and identify the security vulnerabilities and major attacks in the context of WBAN. Different types of attacks on the Contention Access Period (CAP) and Contention Free Period (CFP) parts of the superframe are analyzed and discussed. It is observed that a smart attacker can successfully corrupt an increasing number of GTS slots in the CFP period and can considerably affect the Quality of Service (QoS) in WBAN (since most of the data is carried in CFP period). As we increase the number of smart attackers the corrupted GTS slots are eventually increased, which prevents the legitimate nodes to utilize the bandwidth efficiently. This means that the direct adaptation of IEEE 802.15.4 security framework for WBAN is not totally secure for certain WBAN applications. New solutions are required to integrate high level security in WBAN.


IEEE 802.15.4; WBAN; attacks; security

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