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A Feasibility Assessment of 6LoWPAN for Secure Communications in the U.S. Army

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This thesis uses systems engineering techniques to assess the feasibility for the United States Army to use IPv6 securely over an IEEE standard 802.15.4 6LoWPAN network in both an operational and a support role. The methods used include assessing the limitations and security mechanisms of 6LoWPAN, assessing wireless security concerns, small battery capacity and duration, and the remaining potential for use in both environments. The same model could apply to other protocols or capabilities given operational requirements. Expected operational situations aid in identification of requirements. The two operational scenarios examined in this thesis indicate 6LoWPAN could provide value and meet technical requirements in a support environment such as a combat hospital, but analysis of a tactical situation such as replacing an ANPRC-154A radio for Nett Warrior backhaul indicates its implementation would be problematic. Specifically, in the generalized tactical role, 6LoWPAN devices with a standard AAA rechargeable battery exhibit a lifetime of 11.7 hours or 15.3 hours with a standard AA rechargeable battery and 2.45-inch device length transmitting at -2 dBm. The required encryption standards and layered protocol stack headers result in message payload limits, the worst-case being 45 bytes of data. Reliable voice communications are not feasible over 6LoWPANs limited bandwidth.

Subject Categories:

  • Radio Communications

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