Connecting vehicles securely and reliably is pivotal to the implementation of next generation ITS applications of smart cities. With continuously growing security threats, vehicles could be exposed to a number of service attacks that could put their safety at stake. To address this concern, both US and European ITS standards have selected Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) algorithms to secure vehicular communications. However, there is still a lack of benchmarking studies on existing security standards in real-world settings. In this paper, we first analyze the security architecture of the ETSI ITS standard. We then implement the ECC based digital signature and encryption procedures using an experimental test-bed and conduct an extensive benchmark study to assess their performance which depends on factors such as payload size, processor speed and security levels. Using network simulation models, we further evaluate the impact of standard compliant security procedures in dense and realistic smart cities scenarios. Obtained results suggest that existing security solutions directly impact the achieved quality of service (QoS) and safety awareness of vehicular applications, in terms of increased packet inter-arrival delays, packet and cryptographic losses, and reduced safety awareness in safety applications. Finally, we summarize the insights gained from the simulation results and discuss open research challenges for efficient working of security in ITS applications of smart cities.
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