REAL : A Reciprocal Protocol for Location Privacy in Wireless Sensor Networks

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

18 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number6942208
Pages (from-to)458-471
Journal / PublicationIEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing
Issue number4
Online published30 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


K-anonymity has been used to protect location privacy for location monitoring services in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), where sensor nodes work together to report k -anonymized aggregate locations to a server. Each k -anonymized aggregate location is a cloaked area that contains at least k persons. However, we identify an attack model to show that overlapping aggregate locations still pose privacy risks because an adversary can infer some overlapping areas with less than k persons that violates the k -anonymity privacy requirement. In this paper, we propose a reciprocal protocol for location privacy (REAL) in WSNs. In REAL, sensor nodes are required to autonomously organize their sensing areas into a set of non-overlapping and highly accurate k -anonymized aggregate locations. To confront the three key challenges in REAL, namely, self-organization, reciprocity property and high accuracy, we design a state transition process, a locking mechanism and a time delay mechanism, respectively. We compare the performance of REAL with current protocols through simulated experiments. The results show that REAL protects location privacy, provides more accurate query answers, and reduces communication and computational costs.

Research Area(s)

  • aggregate locations, k-anonymity, location monitoring systems, Location privacy, wireless sensor networks