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Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh Networks: Survey of Communication and Security Protocols

School of Computer Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang 11800, Malaysia
National Advanced IPv6 Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang 11800, Malaysia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(12), 3590;
Received: 5 May 2020 / Revised: 15 June 2020 / Accepted: 15 June 2020 / Published: 25 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wireless Communication in Internet of Things)
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Mesh Networks enable flexible and reliable communications for low-power Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Most BLE-based mesh protocols are implemented as overlays on top of the standard Bluetooth star topologies while using piconets and scatternets. Nonetheless, mesh topology support has increased the vulnerability of BLE to security threats, since a larger number of devices can participate in a BLE Mesh network. To address these concerns, BLE version 5 enhanced existing BLE security features to deal with various authenticity, integrity, and confidentiality issues. However, there is still a lack of detailed studies related to these new security features. This survey examines the most recent BLE-based mesh network protocols and related security issues. In the first part, the latest BLE-based mesh communication protocols are discussed. The analysis shows that the implementation of BLE pure mesh protocols remains an open research issue. Moreover, there is a lack of auto-configuration mechanisms in order to support bootstrapping of BLE pure mesh networks. In the second part, recent BLE-related security issues and vulnerabilities are highlighted. Strong Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) are essential for detecting security breaches in order to protect against zero-day exploits. Nonetheless, viable IDS solutions for BLE Mesh networks remain a nascent research area. Consequently, a comparative survey of IDS approaches for related low-power wireless protocols was used to map out potential approaches for enhancing IDS solutions for BLE Mesh networks. View Full-Text
Keywords: bluetooth low energy; BLE; wireless mesh networks; IoT security bluetooth low energy; BLE; wireless mesh networks; IoT security
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Ghori, M.R.; Wan, T.-C.; Sodhy, G.C. Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh Networks: Survey of Communication and Security Protocols. Sensors 2020, 20, 3590.

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