• DDoS;
  • traceback;
  • probabilistic packet marking;
  • WSN


With limited resource constraints, wireless sensor networks (WSNs) pose unique technical challenges: WSNs are vulnerable to DoS/DDoS attacks that can easily exhaust rare available resources to prevent execution of their expected functions. Reconstructing the attacking path and locating the attacking source are challenging tasks in the traceback research areas. In conventional IP networks, probabilistic packet marking (PPM) schemes are among the widely used traceback algorithms. However, due to their high convergence times, conventional PPM schemes are not enough for the need for quick and accurate traceback in WSNs. Because marking probability assignment schemes have considerable influence on convergence time and performance, we place a particular emphasis on how to improve both easiness and efficiency for the marking probability assignment of the PPM. In this paper, we propose a novel traceback scheme, called fishbone traceback (FBT), which can be deployed in hierarchical WSN environments. FBT is designed based on the two-layer labelling technique and a smart marking probability distribution function (MPDF). The use of two-layer FBT labels is to derive the main branch (‘fish spine’) of the attacking path quickly, while the use of MPDF can greatly reduce the convergence time by integrating with a priori information of hierarchical WSN topology. The FBT path reconstruction procedure is able to rebuild the spine path (for inter-cluster traceback) via cluster head marking packets. It also reforms the details of the micro fishbone path (for intra-cluster traceback) on-demand within a cluster. Both numerical analysis and simulation results show that our solution has better performance in terms of shorter traceback convergence time. In particular, the proposed FBT also includes many salient features (such as the enhanced robustness of the traceback algorithm in case of multi-attack and reusable spine path), which enable FBT to be a practical solution to the traceback problem in hierarchical WSNs. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.