Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Routing Security in Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Routing Security in Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks

Article excerpt


A traditional wireless network has an infrastructure with fixed base stations for mobile network hosts and/or mobile networks. As computing devices are getting smaller and integrated into various systems, such as phones, vehicles, sensors, homes, health care systems, military equipment etc. the trend is moving towards ubiquitous, infrastructure-less and self-configuring wireless networks, such as mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs). In a MANET every network host is also a base station for other network hosts and therefore network communications can be established on demand without the need for fixed network equipment. While MANETs bring many attractive features for future network communications they also introduce many challenges related to (Taneja & Kush, 2010):

* unicast routing

* multicast routing

* dynamic network topology

* speed

* frequency of updates or network overhead

* scalability

* mobile agent based routing

* Quality of Service (QoS)

* energy efficient/power aware routing

* secure routing

Infrastructure-less networks are more vulnerable to routing attacks than their structured counterparts, since there are no dedicated routers and each network node takes part of the routing process. While routing packets can in theory be protected using cryptographic measures it must be taken into account that MANET nodes often consist of hardware restricted devices, such as small chips and sensors, where cryptography would incur a significant computational cost. Furthermore, in dynamic MANETs, where hosts are continuously joining and leaving the network, it is difficult to discern hosts with malicious intentions from legitimate hosts making cryptographic measures impossible to implement in practice. An alternative approach to cryptography is trust based security mechanisms where each node typically monitors the behaviour of its neighbor nodes with the intention to identify suspicious behavior. However, such solutions also typically impose a high load on the network making them challenging to implement in hardware restricted MANETs. Secure routing is therefore a very significant challenge in MANETs.

The main contributions in this paper are:

* a classification of current relevant routing protocols for MANETs and their security extensions, and

* a comparison of secure MANET routing protocols in regard to their protection and detection performance against several security attack types.

The remainder of this paper is organised as follows. In the next section, relevant MANET routing protocols and how these protocols can be classified is presented, while the following section describes security attacks against MANET routing protocols. This is followed by a survey of security extensions of MANET routing protocols, before some concluding comments and future research objectives are described.

Routing Protocols for MANETs

Research on MANETs has nearly 20 years focused on routing and this focus still remains. Several routing protocols for MANETs have been proposed and some surveys on these protocols have been published (Feeney, 1999; Qin & Kunz, 2004; Liu & Kaiser, 2005; Taneja & Kush, 2010) and an IETF Routing Area Working Group MANET (Mobile, 2011) has been active for a decade with six currently active Internet drafts.

Routing protocols for MANETs are usually classified into table driven/proactive protocols, on-demand/reactive protocols, and hybrid protocols based on how routing information is acquired and maintained by mobile nodes. Table driven/proactive protocols use a proactive routing scheme, in which every network node maintains consistent up-to-date routing information from each node to all other nodes in the network. On-demand/reactive protocols are based on a reactive routing scheme, in which at least one route is established only when needed. …

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