Self-healing in unattended wireless sensor networks

Roberto Di Pietro*, Di Ma, Claudio Soriente, Gene Tsudik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) appeal to a wide range of applications that involve the monitoring of various physical phenomena. However, WSNs are subject to many threats. In particular, lack of pervasive tamper-resistant hardware results in sensors being easy targets for compromise. Having compromised a sensor, the adversary learns all the sensor secrets, allowing it to later encrypt/decrypt or authenticate messages on behalf of that sensor. This threat is particularly relevant in the novel unattended wireless sensor networks (UWSNs) scenario. UWSNs operate without constant supervisionby a trusted sink. UWSN's unattended nature and increased exposure to attacks prompts the need for special techniques geared towards regaining security after being compromised. In this article, we investigate cooperative self-healing in UWSNs and propose various techniques to allow unattended sensorstorecover security after compromise. Our techniques provide seamless healing rates even against a very agile and powerful adversary. The effectiveness and viability of our proposed techniques are assessed by thorough analysis and supported by simulation results. Finally, we introduce some real-world issues affecting UWSN deployment and provide some solutions for them as well as a few open problems calling for further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalACM Transactions on Sensor Networks
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Self-healing
  • Wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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