Abstract—We propose a highly scalable cluster-based hierarchical trust management protocol for wireless sensor networks (WSNs) to effectively deal with selfish or malicious nodes. Unlike prior work, we consider multidimensional trust attributes derived from communication and social networks to evaluate the overall trust of a sensor node. By means of a novel probability model, we describe a heterogeneous WSN comprising a large number of sensor nodes with vastly different social and quality of service (QoS) behaviors with the objective to yield “ground truth ” node status. This serves as a basis for validating our protocol design by comparing subjective trust generated as a result of protocol execution at runtime against objective trust obtained from actual node status. To demonstrate the utility of our hierarchical trust management protocol, we apply it to trust-based geographic routing and trust-based intrusion detection. For each application, we identify the best trust composition and formation to maximize application performance. Our results indicate that trust-based geographic routing approaches the ideal performance level achievable by flooding-based routing in message delivery ratio and message delay without incurring substantial message overhead. For trust-based intrusion detection, we discover that there exists an optimal trust threshold for minimizing false positives and false negatives. Furthermore, trust-based intrusion detection outperforms traditional anomaly-based intrusion detection approaches in both the detection probability and the false positive probability. Index Terms—Trust management, security, wireless sensor networks, routing, intrusion detection, performance analysis. I
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