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VEBEK: Virtual Energy-Based Encryption and Keying for Wireless Sensor Networks

Considering the fact that the communication cost is the most dominant factor in a sensor’s energy consumption, we introduce an energy-efficient Virtual Energy-Based Encryption and Keying (VEBEK) scheme as a secure communication framework for Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) that significantly reduces the number of transmissions needed for rekeying to avoid stale keys. Additionally, minimal transmission is imperative for some military applications of WSNs where an adversary could be monitoring the wireless spectrum. In VEBEK, sensed data is encoded using a scheme based on a permutation code generated via the RC4 encryption mechanism. The key to the RC4 encryption mechanism dynamically changes as a function of the residual virtual energy of the sensor. Thus, a one-time dynamic key is employed for one packet only and different keys are used for the successive packets. VEBEK is able to efficiently detect and filter false data injected into the network by malicious outsiders without explicit rekeying messages. We have evaluated VEBEK’s feasibility and performance analytically and through simulations. We show that our framework performs better than other comparable schemes in the literature with an overall 60%-100% improvement in energy savings without the assumption of a reliable medium access control layer.