This paper presents a generic lightweight solution for authentication between powerful devices and resource constrained nodes. The approach is validated through the architectural design of multiple applications in different domains. The paper further discusses variants that might increase the usability of the approach in different settings. More precisely, the solution is tuned for open systems, closed systems and hierarchically structured systems. Further, two use cases are presented in which the open system and closed system approach is applied. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.