Location Privacy in VANETs: Improved Chaff-Based CMIX and Privacy-Preserving End-to-End Communication




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


VANETs communication systems are technologies and defined policies that can be formed to enable ITS applications to provide road traffic efficacy, warning about such issues as environmental dangers, journey circumstances, and in the provision of infotainment that considerably enhance transportation safety and quality. The entities in VANETs, generally vehicles, form part of a massive network known as the Internet of Vehicles (IoV). The deployment of large-scale VANETs systems is impossible without ensuring that such systems are themselves are safe and secure, protecting the privacy of their users. There is a risk that cars might be hacked, or their sensors become defective, causing inaccurate information to be sent across the network. Consequently, the activities and credentials of participating vehicles should be held responsible and quickly broadcast throughout a vast VANETs, considering the accountability in the system. The openness of wireless communication means that an observer can eavesdrop on vehicular communication and gain access or otherwise deduce users' sensitive information, and perhaps profile vehicles based on numerous factors such as tracing their travels and the identification of their home/work locations. In order to protect the system from malicious or compromised entities, as well as to preserve user privacy, the goal is to achieve communication security, i.e., keep users' identities hidden from both the outside world and the security infrastructure and service providers. Being held accountable while still maintaining one's privacy is a difficult balancing act.

This thesis explores novel solution paths to the above challenges by investigating the impact of low-density messaging to improve the security of vehicle communications and accomplish unlinkability in VANETs. This is achieved by proposing an improved chaff-based CMIX protocol that uses fake messages to increase density to mitigate tracking in this scenario. Recently, Christian \etall \cite{vaas2018nowhere} proposed a Chaff-based CMIX scheme that sends fake messages under the presumption low-density conditions to enhance vehicle privacy and confuse attackers. To accomplish full unlinkability, we first show the following security and privacy vulnerabilities in the Christian \etall scheme: linkability attacks outside the CMIX may occur due to deterministic data-sharing during the authentication phase (e.g., duplicate certificates for each communication). Adversaries may inject fake certificates, which breaks Cuckoo Filters' (CFs) updates authenticity, and the injection may be deniable. CMIX symmetric key leakage outside the coverage may occur. We propose a VPKI-based protocol to mitigate these issues. First, we use a modified version of Wang \etall's \cite{wang2019practical} scheme to provide mutual authentication without revealing the real identity. To this end, a vehicle's messages are signed with a different pseudo-identity “certificate”. Furthermore, the density is increased via the sending of fake messages during low traffic periods to provide unlinkability outside the mix-zone. Second, unlike Christian \etall's scheme, we use the Adaptive Cuckoo Filter (ACF) instead of CF to overcome the effects of false positives on the whole filter. Moreover, to prevent any alteration of the ACFs, only RUSs distribute the updates, and they sign the new fingerprints. Third, mutual authentication prevents any leakage from the mix zones' symmetric keys by generating a fresh one for each communication through a Diffie–Hellman key exchange.

As a second main contribution of this thesis, we focus on the V2V communication without the interference of a Trusted Third Party (TTP)s in case this has been corrupted, destroyed, or is out of range. This thesis presents a new and efficient end-to-end anonymous key exchange protocol based on Yang \etall's \cite{yang2015self} self-blindable signatures. In our protocol, vehicles first privately blind their own private certificates for each communication outside the mix-zone and then compute an anonymous shared key based on zero-knowledge proof of knowledge (PoK). The efficiency comes from the fact that once the signatures are verified, the ephemeral values in the PoK are also used to compute a shared key through an authenticated Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol. Therefore, the protocol does not require any further external information to generate a shared key. Our protocol also does not require interfacing with the Roadside Units or Certificate Authorities, and hence can be securely run outside the mixed-zones. We demonstrate the security of our protocol in ideal/real simulation paradigms. Hence, our protocol achieves secure authentication, forward unlinkability, and accountability. Furthermore, the performance analysis shows that our protocol is more efficient in terms of computational and communications overheads compared to existing schemes.





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