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Secure and user-friendly over-the-air firmware distribution in a portable faraday cage

: Striegel, M.; Heyszl, J.; Jakobsmeier, F.; Matveev, Y.; Sigl, G.


Mayrhofer, R. ; Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-, Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control -SIGSAC-:
13th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, WiSec 2020
New York: ACM, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4503-8006-5
Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks (WiSec) <13, 2020, Online>
Fraunhofer AISEC ()

Setting up a large-scale wireless sensor networks (WSNs) is challenging, as firmware must be distributed and trust between sensor nodes and a backend needs to be established. To perform this task efficiently, we propose an approach named Box, which utilizes an intelligent Faraday Cage (FC). The FC acquires firmware images and secret keys from a backend, patches the firmware with the keys and deploys those customized images over-the-air (OTA) to sensor nodes placed in the FC. Electromagnetic (EM) shielding protects this exchange against passive attackers. We place few demands on the sensor node, not requiring additional hardware components or firmware customized by the manufacturer. We describe this novel workflow, implement the Box and a backend system and demonstrate the feasibility of our approach by batch-deploying firmware to multiple commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) sensor nodes. We conduct a user-study with 31 participants with diverse backgrounds and find, that our approach is both faster and more user-friendly than firmware distribution over a wired connection.