PAWN: a payload-based mutual authentication scheme for wireless sensor networks

Mian Jan, Priyadarsi Nanda, Muhammad Usman, Xiangjian He

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) consist of resource-starving miniature sensor nodes deployed in a remote and hostile environment. These networks operate on small batteries for days, months, and even years depending on the requirements of monitored applications. The battery-powered operation and inaccessible human terrains make it practically infeasible to recharge the nodes unless some energy-scavenging techniques are used. These networks experience threats at various layers and, as such, are vulnerable to a wide range of attacks. The resource-constrained nature of sensor nodes, inaccessible human terrains, and error-prone communication links make it obligatory to design lightweight but robust and secured schemes for these networks. In view of these limitations, we aim to design an extremely lightweight payload-based mutual authentication scheme for a cluster-based hierarchical WSN. The proposed scheme, also known as payload-based mutual authentication for WSNs, operates in 2 steps. First, an optimal percentage of cluster heads is elected, authenticated, and allowed to communicate with neighboring nodes. Second, each cluster head, in a role of server, authenticates the nearby nodes for cluster formation. We validate our proposed scheme using various simulation metrics that outperform the existing schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3986
JournalConcurrency Computation Practice and Experience
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • authentication
  • client-server model
  • cluster
  • cluster head
  • lightweight
  • payload based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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