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Using a Spatial Context Authentication Proxy for Establishing Secure Wireless Connections

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Rene Mayrhofer
  • Roswitha Gostner
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Mobile Multimedia
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)198-217
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Spontaneous interaction in wireless ad-hoc networks is often desirable not only between users or devices in direct contact, but also with devices that are accessible only via a wireless network. Secure communication with such devices is difficult because of the required authentication, which is often either password- or certificate-based. An intuitive alternative is context-based authentication, where device authenticity is verified by shared context, and often by direct physical evidence. Devices that are physically separated cannot experience the same context and thus cannot benefit directly from context authentication. We introduce a context authentication proxy that is pre-authenticated with one of the devices and can authenticate with the other by shared context. This concept is applicable to a wide range of application scenarios, context sensing technologies, and trust models. We show its practicality in an implementation for setting up IPSec connections based on spatial reference. Our specific scenario is ad-hoc access of mobile devices to secure 802.11 WLANs using a mobile device as authentication proxy. A user study shows that our method and implementation are intuitive to use and compare favourably to a standard, password-based approach.