Date of Award

Spring 4-16-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Raheem Beyah

Second Advisor

Dr. Yingshu Li


Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) are deployed for monitoring in a range of critical domains (e.g., health care, military, critical infrastructure). Accordingly, these WSNs should be resilient to attacks. The current approach to defending against malicious threats is to develop and deploy a specific defense mechanism for a specific attack. However, the problem with this traditional approach to defending sensor networks is that the solution for one attack (i.e., Jamming attack) does not defend against other attacks (e.g., Sybil and Selective Forwarding). This work addresses the challenges with the traditional approach to securing sensor networks and presents a comprehensive framework, Di-Sec, that can defend against all known and forthcoming attacks. At the heart of Di-Sec lies the monitoring core (M-Core), which is an extensible and lightweight layer that gathers information and statistics relevant for creating defense modules. Along with Di-Sec, a new user-friendly domain-specific language was developed, the M-Core Control Language (MCL). Using the MCL, a user can implement new defense mechanisms without the overhead of learning the details of the underlying software architecture (i.e., TinyOS, Di-Sec). Hence, the MCL expedites the development of sensor defense mechanisms by significantly simplifying the coding process for developers. The Di-Sec framework has been implemented and tested on real sensors to evaluate its feasibility and performance. Our evaluation shows that Di-Sec is feasible on today’s resource-limited sensors and has a nominal overhead. Furthermore, we illustrate the functionality of Di-Sec by implementing four detection and defense mechanisms for attacks at various layers of the communication stack.