Distributed privacy-preserving access control in sensor networks

Rui Zhang, Yanchao Zhang, Kui Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The owner and users of a sensor network may be different, which necessitates privacy-preserving access control. On the one hand, the network owner need enforce strict access control so that the sensed data are only accessible to users willing to pay. On the other hand, users wish to protect their respective data access patterns whose disclosure may be used against their interests. This paper presents DP 2 AC, a Distributed Privacy-Preserving Access Control scheme for sensor networks, which is the first work of its kind. Users in DP 2 AC purchase tokens from the network owner whereby to query data from sensor nodes which will reply only after validating the tokens. The use of blind signatures in token generation ensures that tokens are publicly verifiable yet unlinkable to user identities, so privacy-preserving access control is achieved. A central component in DP 2 AC is to prevent malicious users from reusing tokens, for which we propose a suite of distributed token reuse detection (DTRD) schemes without involving the base station. These schemes share the essential idea that a sensor node checks with some other nodes (called witnesses) whether a token has been used, but they differ in how the witnesses are chosen. We thoroughly compare their performance with regard to TRD capability, communication overhead, storage overhead, and attack resilience. The efficacy and efficiency of DP 2 AC are confirmed by detailed performance evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6095540
Pages (from-to)1427-1438
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2012


  • Wireless sensor networks
  • access control
  • privacy
  • security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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