Secure Mobile Agents on Ad Hoc Wireless Networks

This paper describes SWAT, a Secure Wireless Agent Testbed. Our goal is to create an integrated environment to study information assurance for mobile agent systems on ad hoc wireless networks. The present SWAT consists of dozens of mobile hosts, both PDAs and laptops, and hundreds of both static and mobile software agents. In deploying the testbed, we have developed novel mechanisms for integrating autonomous agent technologies with public-key and symmetric key encryption to support secure communication, at multiple OSI layers, among groups of hosts and agents. The paper describes the architectural technology used in SWAT, the integration challenges, as well as applications for group collaboration, network health monitoring and system security at both the agent and the host level.

The Secure Wireless Agent Testbed (SWAT), under development at Drexel University, is a live laboratory to study integration, networking and information assurance for nextgeneration wireless mobile agent systems. Specifically, the SWAT infrastructure, as conceptualized in Figure 1, consists of PDA-based computing platforms (mostly HP iPAQs) on an 802.11b wireless network with ad hoc routing. The security framework uses a combination of symmetric and public-key cryptography to support encrypted communication at both the network and the agent application layers. A novel feature of SWAT is the ability to support secure group communication, via shared key generation, for groups and sub-groups of computing hosts and agents. Security is monitored by agents that manage keys, assess network traffic patters and analyze host behaviors. Using this framework, agents can revoke access rights for suspicious hosts or agents and adaptively re-route traffic at the network layer to improve the information integrity of the overall system. Lastly, agents provide the implementation framework for a number decentralized user applications, including those for user authentication, collaboration, messaging and remote sensor monitoring.

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