Vampire attacks: Draining life from wireless ad Hoc sensor networks

Eugene Y. Vasserman, Nicholas Hopper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Ad hoc low-power wireless networks are an exciting research direction in sensing and pervasive computing. Prior security work in this area has focused primarily on denial of communication at the routing or medium access control levels. This paper explores resource depletion attacks at the routing protocol layer, which permanently disable networks by quickly draining nodes' battery power. These Vampire attacks are not specific to any specific protocol, but rather rely on the properties of many popular classes of routing protocols. We find that all examined protocols are susceptible to Vampire attacks, which are devastating, difficult to detect, and are easy to carry out using as few as one malicious insider sending only protocol-compliant messages. In the worst case, a single Vampire can increase network-wide energy usage by a factor of O(N), where N in the number of network nodes. We discuss methods to mitigate these types of attacks, including a new proof-of-concept protocol that provably bounds the damage caused by Vampires during the packet forwarding phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6112758
Pages (from-to)318-332
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • Denial of service
  • ad hoc networks
  • routing
  • security
  • sensor networks
  • wireless networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Vampire attacks: Draining life from wireless ad Hoc sensor networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this