Authentication algorithms in the form of cryptographic schemes, such as the Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1) and the digital signature algorithm (DSA), specified in the current variable message format (VMF) military standard have numerous reliability-related limitations when applied to tactical data link (TDL) and multi-TDL networks (MTN). This is because TDL and MTN require maximum tactical security, communication integrity, and low network overhead based on many protocol header bits for rapid communication with limited network resources. The application of such authentication algorithms to TDL and MTN in a rapidly changing battlefield environment without reinforcement measures will lead to functional weaknesses and vulnerabilities when high-level digital-covert activities and deception tactics are implemented. Consequently, the existing VMF authentication scheme must be improved to secure transmission integrity, lower network transaction, and receive authentication tactical information in VMF-based combat network radio (CNR) networks. Therefore, in this study, a tactical wireless ad hoc network topology, similar to that of the existing CNRs, is considered, and a lightweight multi-factor hash chain-based authentication scheme that includes a time-based one-time password (T-OTP) for network overhead reduction and terminal authentication is proposed, coupled with exception handling. The proposed method enhances the confidentiality of tactical message exchanges and reduces unnecessary network transactions and transmission bits for authentication flows between real-time military terminals owned by squads, while ensuring robustness in limited battlefields. Based on these approaches, in the future, we intend to increase the authentication reliability between wireless terminals in the Korean variable message format (KVMF)-based CNR networks based on the Korean Army Corps network scenarios.
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