Faculty Advisor

Tilman Wolf

Faculty Advisor

Peder C. Pedersen

Faculty Advisor

Wenjing Lou

Faculty Advisor

Kaveh Pahlavan

Faculty Advisor

Berk Sunar


"Our modern society is increasingly relying on the collection, processing, and sharing of digital information. There are two fundamental trends: (1) Enabled by the rapid developments in sensor, wireless, and networking technologies, communication and networking are becoming more and more pervasive and ad hoc. (2) Driven by the explosive growth of hardware and software capabilities, computation power is becoming a public utility and information is often stored in centralized servers which facilitate ubiquitous access and sharing. Many emerging platforms and systems hinge on both dimensions, such as E-healthcare and Smart Grid. However, the majority information handled by these critical systems is usually sensitive and of high value, while various security breaches could compromise the social welfare of these systems. Thus there is an urgent need to develop security and privacy mechanisms to protect the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of the collected data, and to control the disclosure of private information. In achieving that, two unique challenges arise: (1) There lacks centralized trusted parties in pervasive networking; (2) The remote data servers tend not to be trusted by system users in handling their data. They make existing security solutions developed for traditional networked information systems unsuitable. To this end, in this dissertation we propose a series of user-centric security and privacy mechanisms that resolve these challenging issues in untrusted network and computing environments, spanning wireless body area networks (WBAN), mobile social networks (MSN), and cloud computing. The main contributions of this dissertation are fourfold. First, we propose a secure ad hoc trust initialization protocol for WBAN, without relying on any pre-established security context among nodes, while defending against a powerful wireless attacker that may or may not compromise sensor nodes. The protocol is highly usable for a human user. Second, we present novel schemes for sharing sensitive information among distributed mobile hosts in MSN which preserves user privacy, where the users neither need to fully trust each other nor rely on any central trusted party. Third, to realize owner-controlled sharing of sensitive data stored on untrusted servers, we put forward a data access control framework using Multi-Authority Attribute-Based Encryption (ABE), that supports scalable fine-grained access and on-demand user revocation, and is free of key-escrow. Finally, we propose mechanisms for authorized keyword search over encrypted data on untrusted servers, with efficient multi-dimensional range, subset and equality query capabilities, and with enhanced search privacy. The common characteristic of our contributions is they minimize the extent of trust that users must place in the corresponding network or computing environments, in a way that is user-centric, i.e., favoring individual owners/users."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Electrical & Computer Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Body Area Networks, Mobile Social Networks, Electronic Health Records, Data Sharing, Encryption, Cloud Computing, Pervasive Networking, Privacy, Security