Key management issues in wireless sensor networks: Current proposals and future developments

Johnson C. Lee, Victor C M Leung, Kirk H. Wong, Jiannong Cao, Chun Bun Henry Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Key management has remained a challenging issue in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) due to the constraints of sensor node resources. Various key management schemes that trade off security and operational requirements have been proposed in recent years. In this article, we first examine the security and operational requirements of WSNs and then review five key management protocols: Eschenauer, Du, LEAP, SHELL, and Panja. Eschenauer's scheme is a classical random key distribution scheme for WSNs. Du's scheme improves on Eschenauer's scheme by using key matrices. LEAP provides a highly flexible key management scheme using four types of keys. SHELL focuses on achieving high robustness, and Panja is optimized for hierarchical WSNs. LEAP, SHELL, and Panja support cluster-based operations and are more aligned with current trends as shown by the new standards, IEEE 802.15.4b and the ZigBee "enhanced" standard. Future developments like-ly will incorporate the features of LEAP and adjustable robustness enhancements from Eschenauer or Du; extremely security-critical applications may benefit from restructuring SHELL to ease implementation and maintenance. Developments for extremely large WSNs should consider improving Panja's scheme due to its hierarchical scalability feature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-84
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Wireless Communications
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Media Technology


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