Protecting the Integrity of IoT Sensor Data and Firmware With A Feather-Light Blockchain Infrastructure
Smart cities deploy large numbers of sensors and collect a tremendous amount of data from them. For example, Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMIs), which consist of physical meters that collect usage data about public utilities such as power and water, are an important building block in a smart city. In a typical sensor network, the measurement devices are connected through a computer network, which exposes them to cyber attacks. Furthermore, the data is centrally managed at the operator's servers, making it vulnerable to insider threats. Our goal is to protect the integrity of data collected by large-scale sensor networks and the firmware in measurement devices from cyber attacks and insider threats. To this end, we first develop a comprehensive threat model for attacks against data and firmware integrity, which can target any of the stakeholders in the operation of the sensor network. Next, we use our threat model to analyze existing defense mechanisms, including signature checks, remote firmware attestation, anomaly detection, and blockchain-based secure logs. However, the large size of the Trusted Computing Base and a lack of scalability limit the applicability of these existing mechanisms. We propose the Feather-Light Blockchain Infrastructure (FLBI) framework to address these limitations. Our framework leverages a two-layer architecture and cryptographic threshold signature chains to support large networks of low-capacity devices such as meters and data aggregators. We have fully implemented the FLBI's end-to-end functionality on the Hyperledger Fabric and private Ethereum blockchain platforms. Our experiments show that the FLBI is able to support millions of end devices.