Security and Privacy in Communication Networks

Volume 106 of the series Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering pp 94-111

Set Difference Attacks in Wireless Sensor Networks

  • Tulio de SouzaAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University of Oxford
  • , Joss WrightAffiliated withOxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • , Piers O’HanlonAffiliated withOxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • , Ian BrownAffiliated withOxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We show that existing proposed mechanisms for preserving the privacy of reported data values in wireless sensor networks are vulnerable against a simple and practical form of attack: the set difference attack. These attacks are particularly effective where a number of separate applications are running in a given network, but are not limited to this case. We demonstrate the feasibility of these attacks and assert that they cannot, in general, be avoided whilst maintaining absolute accuracy of sensed data. As an implication of this, we suggest a mechanism based on perturbation of sensor results whereby these attacks can be partially mitigated.


privacy privacy-preserving wireless sensor network data perturbation differential privacy privacy-preserving data aggregation