Electronics, Vol. 11, Pages 70: Privacy-Enhanced MQTT Protocol for Massive IoT

Electronics doi: 10.3390/electronics11010070

Axelle Hue
Gaurav Sharma
Jean-Michel Dricot

The growing expectations for ubiquitous sensing have led to the integration of countless embedded sensors, actuators, and RFIDs in our surroundings. Combined with rapid developments in high-speed wireless networks, these resource-constrained devices are paving the road for the Internet-of-Things paradigm, a computing model aiming to bring together millions of heterogeneous and pervasive elements. However, it is commonly accepted that the Privacy consideration remains one of its main challenges, a notion that does not only encompasses malicious individuals but can also be extended to honest-but-curious third-parties. In this paper, we study the design of a privacy-enhanced communication protocol for lightweight IoT devices. Applying the proposed approach to MQTT, a highly popular lightweight publish/subscribe communication protocol prevents no valuable information from being extracted from the messages flowing through the broker. In addition, it also prevents partners re-identification. Starting from a privacy-ideal, but unpractical, exact transposition of the Oblivious Transfer (OT) technology to MQTT, this paper follows an iterative process where each previous model’s drawbacks are appropriately mitigated all the while trying to preserve acceptable privacy levels. Our work provides resistance to statistical analysis attacks and dynamically supports new client participation. Additionally the whole proposal is based on the existence of a non-communicating 3rd party during pre-development. This particular contribution reaches a proof-of-concept stage through implementation, and achieves its goals thanks to OT’s indistinguishability property as well as hash-based topic obfuscations.

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