On the Impact of Quality of Protection in Wireless Local Area Networks with IP Mobility

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Wireless local area networks (LANs) are vulnerable to malicious attacks due to their shared medium in unlicensed frequency spectrum, thus requiring security features for a variety of applications even at the cost of quality of service (QoS). However, there is very little work on investigating to what extent system performance is affected by security configurations with respect to mobility scenarios, heterogeneous networks, and different applications. In order to exploit the full potential of existing security solutions, we present a detailed experimental study to demonstrate the impacts of security features on performance by integrating cross-layer security protocols in a wireless LAN testbed with IP mobility. We introduce a quality of protection (QoP) model to indicate the benefits of security protocols and then measure the performance cost of security protocols in terms of authentication time, cryptographic overhead and throughput. Our measurements demonstrate that the effects of security protocols on QoS parameters span a wide range; for example, authentication time is between 0.11 and 6.28 s, which can potentially affect packet loss dramatically. We also find that for the same security protocol throughput in non-roaming scenarios can be up to two times higher than that in roaming scenarios. However, some protocols are robust against mobility with little variation in system performance; thus, it is possible to provision steady service by choosing security protocols when users' mobility pattern is unknown. Furthermore, we provide observations on cross-layer security protocols and suggestions to the design of future security protocols for real-time services in wireless LANs.

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