3rd International ICST Conference on Security and Privacy in Communication Networks

Research Article

Securing Network Location Awareness with Authenticated DHCP

  • @INPROCEEDINGS{10.1109/SECCOM.2007.4550359,
        author={Tuomas Aura and Michael Roe and Steven J. Murdoch},
        title={Securing Network Location Awareness with Authenticated DHCP},
        proceedings={3rd International ICST Conference on Security and Privacy in Communication Networks},
        keywords={Access protocols  Authentication  Communication system security  Computer networks  Home computing  Information security  Mobile computing  Mobile radio mobility management  Network servers  Public key},
  • Tuomas Aura
    Michael Roe
    Steven J. Murdoch
    Year: 2008
    Securing Network Location Awareness with Authenticated DHCP
    DOI: 10.1109/SECCOM.2007.4550359
Tuomas Aura1, Michael Roe1, Steven J. Murdoch2
  • 1: Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK
  • 2: University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK


Network location awareness (NLA) enables mobile computers to recognize home, work and public networks and wireless hotspots and to behave differently at different locations. The location information is used to change security settings such as firewall rules. Current NLA mechanisms, however, do not provide authenticated location information on all networks. This paper describes a novel mechanism, based on public-key authentication of DHCP servers, for securing NLA at home networks and wireless hotspots. The main contributions of the paper are the requirements analysis, a naming and authorization scheme for network locations, and the extremely simple protocol design. The mobile computer can remember and recognize previously visited networks securely even when there is no PKI available. This is critical because we do not expect the majority of small networks to obtain public-key certificates. The protocol also allows a network administrator to pool multiple, heterogeneous access links, such as a campus network, to one logical network identity. Another major requirement for the protocol was that it must not leak information about the mobile host’s identity or affiliation. The authenticated location information can be used to minimize attack surface on the mobile host by making security-policy exceptions specific to a network location.