Secure network coding for wireless mesh networks: Threats, challenges, and directions

Jing Dong, Reza Curtmola, Cristina Nita-Rotaru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


In recent years, network coding has emerged as a new communication paradigm that can significantly improve the efficiency of network protocols by requiring intermediate nodes to mix packets before forwarding them. Recently, several real-world systems have been proposed to leverage network coding in wireless networks. Although the theoretical foundations of network coding are well understood, a real-world system needs to solve a plethora of practical aspects before network coding can meet its promised potential. These practical design choices expose network coding systems to a wide range of attacks. We identify two general frameworks (inter-flow and intra-flow) that encompass several network coding-based systems proposed in wireless networks. Our systematic analysis of the components of these frameworks reveals vulnerabilities to a wide range of attacks, which may severely degrade system performance. Then, we identify security goals and design challenges in achieving security for network coding systems. Adequate understanding of both the threats and challenges is essential to effectively design secure practical network coding systems. Our paper should be viewed as a cautionary note pointing out the frailty of current network coding-based wireless systems and a general guideline in the effort of achieving security for network coding systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1790-1801
Number of pages12
JournalComputer Communications
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Network coding attacks
  • Network coding security
  • Wireless network coding


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