European Symposium on Research in Computer Security

Computer Security -- ESORICS 2015 pp 332-351 | Cite as

vBox: Proactively Establishing Secure Channels Between Wireless Devices Without Prior Knowledge

  • Wei Wang
  • Jingqiang Lin
  • Zhan Wang
  • Ze Wang
  • Luning Xia
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9327)


Establishing secure channels between two wireless devices without any prior knowledge is challenging, especially when such devices only have very simple user interface. Most existing authentication and key negotiation solutions leverage the received signal strength (RSS) of wireless signals, and the security guarantees depend on the environments too much; in a static environment of less motion, the adversaries could control or predict the RSS of legitimate devices. We propose vBox in this paper, a proactive method to establish secure channels between wireless devices, without the assumption on environments. By holding and waving two devices to communicate, the owner creates a virtual “shield box”. The adversaries outside the box cannot send signals with stable RSS into the box, so the legitimate devices can easily be authenticated based on the variation of RSS. At the same time, the adversaries cannot correctly measure or detect the RSS of wireless signals transmitted between the in-box devices, and then they can directly transmit secret keys in plaintext. Then, after the simple operation by the owner for a few seconds, the authenticated nodes will securely communicate using the shared secret key. We implement the vBox prototype on commercial-off-the-shelf ZigBee devices, and evaluate it with extensive experiments under the normal case and several attack scenarios. The experiment results and security analysis show that, vBox establishes secure channels handily against various attacks and is suitable for different environments.


Authentication Key establishment Received signal strength Wireless personal area network 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jingqiang Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ze Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luning Xia
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Data Assurance and Communication Security Research CenterChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Information Security, Institute of Information EngineeringChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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