(19)
(11)EP 3 406 065 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 17700158.3

(22)Date of filing:  05.01.2017
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04W 12/06  (2009.01)
H04W 88/04  (2009.01)
H04W 84/12  (2009.01)
H04L 29/06  (2006.01)
H04W 84/18  (2009.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/EP2017/050233
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/125265 (27.07.2017 Gazette  2017/30)

(54)

AUTHENTICATION OF DATA TRANSMISSION DEVICES

DATENRELAISAUTHENTIFIZIERUNG

AUTHENTIFICATION DE RELAIS DE DONNÉES


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 19.01.2016 EP 16151941

(43)Date of publication of application:
28.11.2018 Bulletin 2018/48

(73)Proprietor: British Telecommunications public limited company
London EC1A 7AJ (GB)

(72)Inventors:
  • BEDDUS, Simon
    London EC4V 5BT (GB)
  • DEANS, Paul
    London EC4V 5BT (GB)

(74)Representative: British Telecommunications public limited company Intellectual Property Department 
Ground Floor, Faraday Building 1 Knightrider Street
London EC4V 5BT
London EC4V 5BT (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 466 791
WO-A1-2015/097223
WO-A1-03/003690
WO-A1-2015/166099
  
  • "Digital cellular telecommunications system (Phase 2+); Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS); 3G security; Security architecture (3GPP TS 33.102 version 12.2.0 Release 12)", TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION, EUROPEAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS STANDARDS INSTITUTE (ETSI), 650, ROUTE DES LUCIOLES ; F-06921 SOPHIA-ANTIPOLIS ; FRANCE, vol. 3GPP SA 3, no. V12.2.0, 1 January 2015 (2015-01-01), XP014235393,
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description


[0001] This invention relates to the authentication of communications connections between servers and remote terminals using intermediate "mule" devices. It is particularly suited to the use of programmable wireless devices such as smart phones to collect or relay data from isolated Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) in a secure manner.

[0002] Patent documents WO015/097223 A1 and US2009/310561 A1 are relevant prior art.

[0003] Mobile AdHoc-Networks or MANets have been developed and used for communication and instrumentation across battlefield, disaster area and agricultural situations where existing network capability is absent or at best intermittent. Innovative approaches have been developed to store critical data collected by sensors and forward it during brief moments of network capacity. Although network connectivity is almost ubiquitous, there are network, power and financial budgetary constraints that mean it is not possible for each remote terminal to have its own 4G wireless card and suitable battery supply to "backhaul" the data to a central data hub.

[0004] Even in urban situations, accessing suitable WiFi-capable backhaul continues to be a major obstacle to mass deployment of sensors. To address this need the concept of the data "mule" has been developed, a mobile collector or distributor device that moves through a field of interest., establishing intermittent contact with individual remote terminals, and collecting data from them for onward transmission to a central server (or, conversely, as a distributor to the remote terminals of data that has previously been downloaded to the device from a central server). Deployments typically include attachment of data mules to vehicles such as buses that collect data from roadside sensors along the route. Another application is the collection of domestic utility meter readings (water, electricity, gas, etc) by providing each premises' meter with a low-range wireless transmitter which can be read by a "mule" in a vehicle operated by the utility company as it passes through the area. The term "sensor" used in this specification includes utility meters, and any other devices which record measurements or responses to external stimuli and store the data for subsequent download.

[0005] Unlike conventional relays, the mules do not need to be in simultaneous communication with the transmitter of the data and the receiver of the destination of the data, but can store the data whilst moving out of the range of the source transmitter to the range of the receiver, through a zone out of range of both. However, this means that the source and destination cannot mutually authenticate each other's credentials.

[0006] The "mules" do not need to have access to the data they convey, but each of the three parties (server, remote terminal (sensor) and mobile device or "mule") have to be able to authenticate to the other two that the connection between them is genuine. Existing data mule deployments are closed systems whereby the data mule and sensor network are owned and operated by the same legal entity. In such a situation, security credentials can be distributed across the closed system with a reduced risk that the information will be exposed. The data mule stores usernames, passwords or access keys that can be presented to WSN nodes during an authentication process. This approach requires very tight access to credential management. In particular, the devices to be used as mules have the access credentials of the WSN, and this requires that such devices are strictly controlled by the operator of the WSN. For instance, several mules could in principle use the same credentials, as those credentials will be transferred by the owner to each mule under strict secure conditions with very little chance of interception.

[0007] These closed systems require a dedicated fleet of mule devices and personnel to operate them. It is desirable to allow any suitably programmable communications device such as a "smartphone" to act as a data mule without a pre-established relationship with multiple WSNs. This expands the number of devices that can be used, and thus improves the data collection process. The necessary programming application (referred to herein as a DMA - data mule application), is relatively simple to install either on manufacture, or by downloading to the device subsequently, and could be installed in any Smartphone whose owner is willing to allow the device to be used in this way. Ideally the use as a "mule" would be transparent to the user and only make use of spare capacity, for example when the device is in idle mode. As with the conventional data mules, interaction with the sensor terminals may be limited to times when the mule and sensor are in close proximity, and upload of the data arranged to be at a later time when the device is in contact with the network, thus minimising the power required to operate the mule functions.

[0008] However, it is not desirable to allow a device that is not under the control of the WSN operator to be entrusted with the authentication data required for the sensors to communicate with the central data collecting server. To do so would risk compromising the security of the system as the number of such devices would proliferate. If the credentials were simply copied to thousands of third party mules under less than perfect conditions, this could result in a compromised mule (outside the control of the WSN owner) discovering and exposing the credentials to the world. The present invention addresses this problem, by providing a method for authentication of a communications connection between a server and a remote terminal using an intermediate device, in which:
  • the server generates first and second key codes, the key codes both being derived from a shared secret known to the server and remote terminal but not to the intermediate device,
  • the server transmits the first and second key codes to the intermediate device
  • the remote terminal uses the shared secret to generate a duplicate of the first key code,
  • the intermediate device moves out of contact with the server and into proximity of the remote terminal
  • the remote terminal transmits the first key code to the intermediate device
  • the intermediate device compares the first key code and the duplicate of the first key code to verify the authenticity of the remote terminal
  • the intermediate device transmits the second key code to the remote terminal
  • the remote terminal uses the shared secret to generate a duplicate of the second key code
  • the remote terminal compares the second key code and the duplicate of the second key code to verify the authenticity of the intermediate device.
The first and second key codes may be generated dynamically from the shared secret, and changed after each use. In one variant, the server generates a plurality of one-use key code pairs and transmit them to the intermediate device, and the intermediate device uses each key-code pair in turn for a series of authentication interactions with the remote terminal. A key code may be combined with address data of the intermediate device encoded using the shared secret, so that the remote terminal may use the shared secret to decode the address data, so that another intermediate device, with a different address, cannot make connection by using the same key codes.
The intermediate device may be responsive to a flag signal generated by the remote terminal to route the received data either to a data store in the intermediate device for later transmission to the server, in response to a first setting of the flag signal, or to open a connection to the server for relaying the data to the server in response to a second setting of the flag signal.
The invention also provides a data communication device configured to operate as an intermediate relay between a server and one or more first data communications devices, which in combination can be configured to operate the method of the invention, and a computer program element comprising computer program code to, when loaded into a communications device and executed thereon, configure the communications device to operate in accordance with the method.

[0009] For the avoidance of doubt, it should be understood that the order of the two authentication stages can be reversed from that listed above, so that the first device verifies the authenticity of the second, intermediate, device before the second, intermediate, device verifies the authenticity of the first device.

[0010] According to this process, the application (DMA) operating on the device which is to operate as a "mule" (or relay) downloads limited authentication data from a Central Server for one or more local WSNs. The identity of the WSNs for which the device currently requires authentication data can be determined by the central server by reference to location positioning technology installed in the mobile device, such as GPS, or by the identity of the currently serving cellular network base station.. The data may be arranged to be deleted from the device after a predetermined period of non-use, both for security and to avoid wasting data storage capacity in the mobile device.

[0011] When the device subsequently comes into proximity of one of the WSN terminal nodes for which it has the authentication data the DMA challenges the terminal node and, if the node returns the required response, the DMA is then required to respond to a challenge issued by the node. If the expected authentication details match those expected by the terminal node, data will be uploaded to the DMA for forwarding to the central server. However, the DMA is arranged such that it can only issue the correct challenge and recognise the required response, and return the required response to the challenge issued by the terminal node, because it has been given that information by the central server. The challenge and response are generated using "shared secrets", shared between the central server and the respective terminal node but not the DMA. The server provides sufficient information to the DMA device to be able to issue and recognise the correct challenges and responses, but not to generate them independently of the server.

[0012] In a preferred embodiment, the challenges and responses are dynamically generated according to an algorithm derived from the shared secret, so that any rogue device that intercepts the challenge and response data cannot use it subsequently to intercept transmissions from the terminals. The preferred embodiment also encodes the address data of the mule device in communication with the terminal device, to prevent interception of the data by other devices

[0013] The data mule therefore presents authentication data to the terminal to prove that it is itself authenticated by the Central Server. In a preferred arrangement the DMA uses a network address of the mobile device as part of the encrypted "key" it uses. The terminal node uses a local algorithm to determine whether the presented "key" and mule address are consistent with a device authorised by the central server to act as a data mule in this way. The use of the MAC address (or similar network address) of the mule as part of the encrypted key means that other devices cannot emulate the genuine "mule" device as any response would only be sent to the device with the correct MAC address.

[0014] The authentication between the mule and the terminal device can be done without either of them being currently in direct contact with the central server. It is only necessary that the mule will have previously been given the necessary data to carry out the authentication when it subsequently detects a terminal device and the remote terminal will have previously been given the shared secret. The invention is defined by the appended independent claims.

[0015] An exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a diagrammatic representation of a network in which the invention may operate.

Figure 2 is a diagrammatic representation of the exchanges of data taking places between the elements co-operating to perform the method of this embodiment

Figure 3 is a flow chart representing the processes taking place in a mobile device operating according to the embodiment

Figure 4 is a flow chart representing the processes taking place in a central server operating according to the embodiment

Figure 5 is a flow chart representing the processes taking place in a remote terminal device operating according to the embodiment.

Figure 6 is a schematic diagram of the functional elements of a terminal configured for operation according to the invention

Figure 7 is a schematic diagram of the functional elements of a mobile device configured for operation according to the invention

Figure 8 is a schematic diagram of the functional elements of a central server configured for operation according to the invention.



[0016] As depicted in Figure 1, a number of local terminals 4, 41, 42, 43, 44 are distributed through a region 5. The functional elements of one such terminal 4 are depicted in Figure 8. These terminals are provided to collect data relating to their environment through sensing apparatus 81, to be stored locally (store 82) and later delivered by a processing system 83 to a server 1 by way of an intermediate device 3 and a communications network 6. A flag function 800 may be used to provide labelling of the data to facilitate handling by the intermediate mobile device 3. Only elements relevant to the understanding of the operation of the embodiment are depicted, but it will be understood that functions such as power management would also be required.

[0017] Referring to Figure 8 in more detail, each terminal is provided with a low-powered radio transceiver 80 which allows it to communicate with devices nearby, but is not powerful enough to communicate directly with the nearest wireless network access point 2. Each terminal also has a beacon generation system 84 for generating a low-powered signal advertising its presence through the radio transceiver (communications interface) 80, either continuously or in response to a signal broadcast by another device such as the mobile device 3. The terminal device 4 also includes an authentication system 85, including an encryption system 86 including a key generation process 87 making use of a "shared secret" key stored in a memory 88. The "shared secret" key can be installed in the terminal when it is first deployed. The terminals are configured to operate in accordance with steps 106-109 and 112 - 118 of the process to be described later, with reference to Figure 5.

[0018] The central server 1 depicted in Figure 6 has a processor 66 configured to operate in accordance with steps 101-105 and 123-126 of the process to be described later, with reference in particular to Figure 4, and in particular to collect data from the terminals (step 123) and process the data so collected (step 126). It also has a copy of the "shared secret" key 88 for each terminal 4, 40, 41 etc, to be used by a key generation system 62 to generate request keys and challenge keys to be stored (store 63) for use in a decryption function 65 of data received from the remote terminals, 4, 40, 41 etc through the interface 64 from the network 6. As will be explained, the key store also generates key codes for transmission through the communications interface 64 to the mobile devices 3. The central server also maintains a store 68 of location data for the terminals 4, 40, 41 etc.

[0019] Figure 6 depicts an interface 69 with a billing system 67 for managing a user account associated with each mobile device 3, which is used in some embodiments.

[0020] The various functional elements depicted in Figure 6 as co-operating in operation as the server may form part of a distributed system, and are not necessarily co-located.

[0021] A "Data Mule Application" (DMA) is installed on a mobile device 3 to allow it to act as a relay between the terminals 4, 41, 42 etc and the central server 1, when the mobile device is within range of one of the terminals, in accordance with steps 100, 101, 105-107, 109-112 and 118-123 of the process, to be described later with reference to Figure 3. The mobile device may be a conventional "smartphone", with the typical components including a user interface 74, central processor 73, an app store 70 for programming data, and a communications interface 71. The communications interface 71 is capable of wireless communication with the network 2 and the terminal devices 4.

[0022] The "data mule application" can be installed in the application store 70 on the device during manufacture, or downloaded subsequently by the central server 1 from an application store 60, (as shown in Figure 6), or from some other source. The "data mule application" stored in the application store 70 is then used to control the central processor 73 of the mobile device 3 according to the programme data in the application to retrieve data from, or send configuration data to, the terminals 4, 40, ....., either to forward directly to the server 1 or to store in a temporary data store 78 until it is possible to forward it to the server 1.

[0023] The application includes a location-finding system 72 for identifying the general area in which the mobile device 3 is currently located. The location-finding system may use an input from, for example, a GPS system, or it may be associated with the communications interface 71, reporting its position to the server 1 with reference to its location relative to the fixed infrastructure of the network 2. The application also includes a beacon detection function 75 and an authentication processor 76, including a store 77 for downloaded authorisation data.

[0024] Such a mobile device 3 is depicted in Figure 1 travelling on a trajectory 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 which passes through the region 5 in which the terminals are located. As the device approaches the region (position 31), it provides location data (72) to the server 1 which retrieves data 68 relating to any terminals 4, 41, 42........ in that area and the key generation system 62 generates authentication data relating to those terminals and transmits it via the interface 64, 2, 71 to the data store 77 associated with the authentication processor 76 running on the processor 73 of the mobile device 3. A flag detector 700 may be provided to process control information relating to the handling of the data, for example whether to forward it immediately or store it in local memory 78 until the device next connects to the network 2. The use of such a flag is particularly useful if the data itself is encrypted in such a way that the mobile device 3 cannot parse it.

[0025] As has already been discussed with reference to Figure 8, each terminal 4 has a beacon generation system 84 for generating a low-powered signal advertising its presence. Referring to Figures 1 and 2, if the mobile device 3 comes within range of such a beacon signal (e.g. location 32) the mobile device 3 interrogates the terminal 4 to allow retrieval of data or the distribution of configuration data or software to the terminal. This process is repeated for any other terminal 41 whose beacon it detects (position 33). The data may then be uploaded by the mobile terminal 3 to the central server 1 using the access network 2, 6, The data may be stored in the mobile device 3 at a temporary store 78 (Figure 7) for transmission to the server 1 at a subsequent time (location 34) if it is impossible or inconvenient to set up a special data session with the access network 2, 6 immediately the data has been collected.

[0026] In order to allow mobile devices not under direct control of the operator of the terminals 4, 41 etc, and the central server 1 to be used for this purpose, it is desirable for each of the three elements in the process - that is to say the central server 1, the mobile device 3 and the terminal 4 - to be able to authenticate the identities of the other two. This is achieved, in the present embodiment, by the following process. It will be described with reference to a single terminal device 4, but it will be understood that the process will be the same for all the other terminal devices 41, 42, etc.

[0027] Each local terminal (LS) has a "shared secret" key (SK), identical copies of which are stored securely in memory in the central server 1 (Figure 6) and in memory in the terminal 4 (Figure 8) (both indexed "88" as the data in the memories are identical). It is desirable that each terminal 4, 41, 42 etc has a different "shared secret", each known only to central server 1 and the respective terminal. This secret key can be used to generate encryption key strings without compromising the secret, but the generated key strings can only be decrypted by a device that also has the shared secret. It is desirable that the secret is derived from an algorithm such as Time-based One-time Password Algorithm (TOTP), that computes a one-time password from the shared secret key and the current time and/or a counter, to generate a hash-based message authentication code (HMAC), such that it changes with each use in a quasi-random manner, to ensure that any user intercepting communications using the key cannot use the intercepted communication as a model for a rogue communication emulating the genuine originator of the original message.

[0028] The authentication process will be described with reference to Figures 1 to 5. There are two principal stages to the process. The first stage, (Steps 100-105) takes place in response to a mobile device 3 moving to a location 31 within an area 5 where there are terminals 4, 41, etc to be detected. In this stage, the mobile device is given information to allow it to identify the terminals and perform a mutual authentication with them The second stage (steps 106-123) takes place in response to the mobile device, having moved to a location 32, 33 in which it detects the beacon of one of the terminals 4, 41 etc), and can carry out the authentication process for which it was given the necessary data in the first stage.

[0029] The process operates as follows. The mobile unit 3 is configured to report to the central server 1 when its location-finding system 72 detects that it has entered a region 5 where terminals 4, 41 etc under the indirect control of the server are located. This may be done by having the mobile device 3 periodically reporting its position to the server 1, and the server responding when the reported location meets predetermined criteria. Alternatively, the position-based criteria can be pre-loaded in the programming 70 of the mobile device, so that when the location system 72 detects that its location is within a region 5, it automatically reports to the central server 1.

[0030] When the mobile unit 3 enters such a predetermined region 5 (step 100) its authentication processor 76 co-operates with the central server 1, and as a first step in the process it requests a "white list" of local terminals (step 101). This request includes the MAC address of the mobile device, and its current location. The use of the MAC address of the data mule when generating a one time or many-time challenge key effectively binds the data mule 3 with the server 1.

[0031] The central server 1 retrieves the data relating to the relevant terminals 4, 40, 41 etc from a store 68 and generates a request transaction identity (r_txid) and a challenge transaction identity (c_txid) for each terminal 4, 41, 42 etc in the region 5 (step 102). (Apart from using different secret keys, the process is the same for each terminal and will be described only for terminal 4). The c_txid is a quasi-random string generated using the secret key SK of the terminal 4 and information specific to the device 3 such as such as MAC address, serial number and vendor. The r_txid is another quasi-random string, also generated using the secret key and the devicespecific data, and also includes the MAC address of the terminal 4.

[0032] The key generation processor 62 then generates a request key (RK) for the terminal, incorporating the r_txid (step 103), and a challenge key (CK) for the terminal incorporating the c_txid (step 104). Each request key isunique and is generated using an encrypted form of the MAC address of the mobile device as one of the parameters, other parameters may include time validity (earliest and latest times), trust level (access control on what the mule can access), number of authentication attempts allowed, and unique transaction identifier. This prevents other devices eavesdropping on exchanges between the mobile device 3 and the terminals 4 and then replaying the exchange substituting their own MAC address. It should be noted that as only the terminal 4 and the central server 1 have access to the "secret key" (SK) 88, no mobile device can generate the encrypted form of the MAC address for itself, nor for any other mobile device it may be attempting to emulate ("spoof").

[0033] The keys can be implemented using Keyed Hash Message Authentication Code (HMAC) algorithm such as HMAC-MD5 or HMAC-SHA1. Effectively, the smart phones Bluetooth MAC (comprising 6 bytes) address (and or serial number/vendor) and r_txid can be combined with a shared secret message SK (known only to terminal and central server) into a single plain-text message. The plain message can then be hashed using the SK (known only to terminal and central server) to produce a message digest. This message digest is effectively the RK. Likewise, the CK can be generated in the same way using the c_txid.

[0034] The use of transaction identities (txid) is desirable to prevent Man-in-the-Middle attacks, terminal spoofing and replay attacks. In effect, the txids allow the uses of each request key (RK), and challenge key (CK) to be limited in number or period of validity.

[0035] Setting up the system to use-keys-only-once would prevent replay attacks by eavesdropping devices, because once authentication has occurred once, the key becomes invalid and no further device listening in would be able to use the same key to gain access. To accomplish this, the terminal 4 and central server 1 maintain previously used r_txids relating to each mobile device in memory 63, 89 for long enough for the threat of immediate "replay" attacks using the same r_txid to have subsided.

[0036] Likewise, the terminal 4 can store used c_txids for the mobile device 3 in memory 89, so that it can detect when a "spoofer" device is attempting to replay a previous challenge request.

[0037] The central server 1 next transmits a message to the mobile device 3 with the request key RK, challenge key CK, and also incorporating the respective identities r_txid and c_txid (step 105) from which they were generated, for each terminal on the "white list" 68 for the locality identified. The mobile device 3 then stores this data 77 until required. Likewise, terminal-specific configuration data or software could also be sent to the device 3 to allow updates to be made to the terminal.

[0038] In one variant, the central server 1 downloads to the terminal 4 a set of one-off RK, CK each with an associated txid, that can be used as a set of one-time "vouchers" to authenticate with the terminal. This allows the mobile device 3 to make multiple contacts with the same terminal 4 without the need to contact the server 1 between each such contact. Essentially, the central server 1 has given the mobile device 3 instructions 77 on how to recognise, and be recognised by, the terminal 4, but without releasing the shared secret stored in the respective memories 88 of the terminal and server by which the recognition signals have been generated. The mobile device 3 (or "mule") only sees the public keys (RK, CK) and does not share the secret which allows such keys to be generated. Furthermore, each key can only be used once, and only by the device having the MAC address encrypted into the key.

[0039] The instructions sent by the server 1 provide the data required to allow the mobile device 3 to set up a two-way authentication process between the mobile device 3 and the terminal 4. The set-up process enables the mobile device to issue an initial challenge (Q), recognise the correct response (R) from the terminal, and generate a counter-response (C). The response R is sufficient to prove to the mobile device that the terminal is genuine as only a terminal having the "shared secret" available in its memory 88 can derive response R from challenge Q. The counter-response C is sufficient to prove to the terminal that the device transmitting it is also genuine, as the correct counter-response can only have been generated by the server 1 with the shared secret 88, and thus provides confirmation that the mobile unit has been authorised by the server to receive data from the terminal..

[0040] The use of the challenge Q, response R and counter-response C, will now be discussed with reference to Figures 2, 3, and 5 (steps 106-122)
Each terminal 4, 41, etc transmits a beacon signal generated by the beacon generator 84 at low power so that when a mobile device is close to it, communication can be established between the terminal and the mobile device. By using the mobile unit 3 as a relay, the power required for transmission can be much reduced compared with transmission direct to the central server 1 through a "wi fi" hotspot or a cellular base station 2.

[0041] When the mobile device 3 approaches a terminal it detects the MAC address of the terminal in its beacon signal 84 (step 106) and pulls the appropriate terminal information from its white list 77. The authentication process 76 in the mobile device 3 generates a challenge request Q (step 107) using the c_txid authorisation data 77 and sends it to the terminal 4.

[0042] The authentication processor 85 in the terminal 4 then generates a copy CK* (A1) of the challenge key (step 108), calculated by using the "shared secret" key SK to decrypt the information in the challenge request c_txid received from the mobile device 3. This copy CK* is returned to the mobile device (step 109).

[0043] In the next step 110 the authentication processor 76 in the mobile device 3 then compares the challenge key CK* received from the terminal 4 (in step 109) with the challenge key CK previously received from the central server (in step 105) and stored in the memory 77. If CK and CK* correspond then this is proof that the terminal 4 is genuine (step 111), because it shares the secret code SK with the central server 1, as the key CK/CK* can only be derived if the secret code SK is known. It should be noted that the mobile device 3 does not itself have access to the secret code SK, but can determine that both the central server and the terminal can independently derive the code CK/CK*.

[0044] Likewise, the authentication processor 76 in the mobile device 3 sends an authentication request to the terminal 4 including the MAC address, and r_txid (step 112). It also sends the request key RK. It should be noted that the value of RK transmitted by the mobile device was generated from the r_txid by the central server 1 using the secret key SK. The mobile device, not having access to the secret key SK, cannot generate the value of the r_txid independently of the server 1. Moreover, as the request key RK also includes the MAC address of the mobile device 3, encrypted using the secret key, other mobile devices cannot stage a "man in the middle" attack on the communications as it does not have access to the key by which the correct MAC address could be substituted by that of the attacking device.

[0045] Using the MAC address of the mobile device 3, the r_txid, and the secret key SK, the authentication processor 85 in the terminal 4 determines a value for the request key RK* (step 113). This is compared (step 114) with the value of RK received from the mobile device 3 in the previous step. If the RK received in the authentication request 112 and the locally generated RK* (generated in step 113) match, the terminal can determine that the mobile device 3 is genuine, as the mobile device 3 can only provide the correct value for RK if that value has been generated by the secret code SK, and therefore must have been received from the server 1.

[0046] The mobile device 3 and the terminal 4 having each determined that the other is a genuine part of the network under the control of the server 1, communication can be opened between the data store 82 in the terminal 4 and the data store 61 in the server 1, through the mobile device 3 (step 118). Further security for the data itself may be provided by providing an encrypted "tunnel" through the mobile device 3 between the data processing function 83 of the terminal 4 and the corresponding data processing function 66 of the server 1. The data processing encompasses retrieval of terminal data but also the distribution of configuration or update software or data to the terminal. The device acting as "mule" does not need to have access to the encryption system, but is merely the means by which the encrypted data is carried between the terminal and the central server, where it can be decrypted so that the central server 1 can process the data (step 126)

[0047] In some cases, the terminal 4 may apply a flag 800 to identify the data (flag RMK, steps 116, 117) as being of high priority, for example to report a failing power supply, loss of the terminal network or a critical value having been detected, requiring immediate upload to the central server 1. The flag RMK can be created using the same key-creation principles as discussed above. If a flag detection unit 700 in the mobile device 3 detects the priority flag RMK (step 119) it establishes a connection with the network immediately (step 120), whereas other data messages may be stored in memory 78 (step 121) until the mobile device 3 next connects to a network for the user's own purposes (step 122).

[0048] The application running on the device 3 may face penalties such as connection or data volume charges when using 3G/4G networks. A remuneration system may be provided such that the owner-operator of the mobile device can be compensated for any additional connection charges incurred. To prove the high priority of the request, the high priority flag RMK may thus be forwarded by the mobile device 3 to the central server 1 (step 124) with the data. Detection of this flag may be used by a billing interface 69 to cause the transmission of data to a billing system 67 (step 125) to compensate the user of the terminal 3 for the additional connection required by the data download, for example by crediting the user's account with the cost of the data session.


Claims

1. A method for authentication of a communications connection between a server and a remote terminal using an intermediate device, in which:

- the server generates first and second key codes, the key codes both being derived from a shared secret known to the server and remote terminal but not to the intermediate device,

- the server transmits the first and second key codes to the intermediate device

- the remote terminal uses the shared secret to generate a duplicate of the first key code,

- the intermediate device moves out of contact with the server

- the intermediate device moves into proximity of the remote terminal

- the remote terminal transmits the first key code to the intermediate device

- the intermediate device compares the first key code and the duplicate of the first key code to verify the authenticity of the remote terminal

- the intermediate device transmits the second key code to the remote terminal

- the remote terminal uses the shared secret to generate a duplicate of the second key code

- the remote terminal compares the second key code and the duplicate of the second key code to verify the authenticity of the intermediate device.


 
2. A method according to claim 1, in which the first and second key codes are generated from the shared secret, and are changed after each use.
 
3. A method according to Claim 2, in which the server generates a plurality of one-use key code pairs and transmits them to the intermediate device, and the intermediate device uses each key-code pair in turn for a series of authentication interactions with the remote terminal.
 
4. A method according to any preceding claim, in which the first and second key codes are combined with encoded address data of the intermediate device, and the remote terminal uses the shared secret to decode the address data, to verify the identity of the intermediate device.
 
5. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein the intermediate device is responsive to a flag signal generated by the remote terminal to route the received data either to a data store in the intermediate device for later transmission to the server, in response to a first setting of the flag signal, or to open a connection to the server for relaying the data to the server in response to a second setting of the flag signal.
 
6. A data communications device configured to operate as an intermediate relay between a server and one or more remote data communications terminals, having

- one or more communications interfaces for communication with the server and the or each remote communications terminal,

- an authentication system configured to:

- receive challenge and response data from the server relating to the or each remote communications terminal and comprising, for each remote communications device a first challenge, a first response key and a second response key,

- when the data communications device moves out of contact with the server and into proximity of the data communications terminal, to transmit the first challenge to the respective remote data communications terminal;

- receive a version of the first response key from the remote data communications terminal

- compare the version of the first response key received from the remote data communications terminal with the first response key previously received from the server

- and transmit the second key to the remote data communications terminal.


 
7. A data communications device according to Claim 6, arranged to transmit a signal reporting its location to the server.
 
8. A data communication device according to Claim 6 or Claim 7, having a detection system for detecting the or each remote data communications terminal and transmitting the respective challenge and response data in response to such detection
 
9. A data communications device according to claim 6, claim 7 or claim 8, having a memory for storing a sequence of first and second key codes for the or each remote terminal, the authentication system being arranged to retrieve each key code in sequence for a plurality of successive connections to the remote communications terminal.
 
10. A data communications device according to claim 6, claim 7, claim 8 or claim 9, in which the authentication system generates the challenge request by using the key code to encode an identity code associated with the device.
 
11. A data communications device according to claim 6, claim 7, claim 8, claim 9 or claim 10, wherein the communications interface comprises a data store for data received from the remote terminal, and a detection device responsive to a flag signal carried in data received from the remote terminal to route the received data to the data store in response to a first setting of the flag signal or to the server in response to a second setting of the flag signal.
 
12. A computer program element comprising computer program code to, when loaded into a communications device and executed thereon, configure the communications device to operate in accordance with any of claims 6 to 11.
 


Ansprüche

1. Verfahren zur Authentifizierung einer Kommunikationsverbindung zwischen einem Server und einem entfernten Endgerät unter Verwendung einer Zwischenvorrichtung, wobei

- der Server einen ersten und einen zweiten Schlüssel-Code erzeugt, wobei die Schlüssel-Codes beide von einem gemeinsam verwendeten Geheimnis abgeleitet werden, das dem Server und dem entfernten Endgerät bekannt ist, der Zwischenvorrichtung jedoch nicht,

- der Server den ersten und den zweiten Schlüssel-Code zur Zwischenvorrichtung sendet,

- das entfernte Endgerät das gemeinsam verwendete Geheimnis verwendet, um ein Duplikat des ersten Schlüssel-Codes zu erzeugen,

- die Zwischenvorrichtung sich aus dem Kontakt mit dem Server bewegt,

- die Zwischenvorrichtung sich in die Nähe des entfernten Endgeräts bewegt,

- das entfernte Endgerät den ersten Schlüssel-Code zur Zwischenvorrichtung sendet,

- die Zwischenvorrichtung den ersten Schlüssel-Code und das Duplikat des ersten Schlüssel-Codes vergleicht, um die Echtheit des entfernten Endgeräts zu prüfen,

- die Zwischenvorrichtung den zweiten Schlüssel-Code zum entfernten Endgerät sendet,

- das entfernte Endgerät das gemeinsam verwendete Geheimnis verwendet, um ein Duplikat des zweiten Schlüssel-Codes zu erzeugen, und

- das entfernte Endgerät den zweiten Schlüssel-Code und das Duplikat des zweiten Schlüssel-Codes vergleicht, um die Echtheit der Zwischenvorrichtung zu prüfen.


 
2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei der erste und der zweite Schlüssel-Code aus dem gemeinsam verwendeten Geheimnis erzeugt werden und nach jeder Verwendung geändert werden.
 
3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 2, wobei der Server mehrere Einmalschlüssel-Code-Paare erzeugt und sie zur Zwischenvorrichtung sendet und die Zwischenvorrichtung wiederum jedes Schlüssel-Code-Paar für eine Reihe von Authentifizierungsinteraktionen mit dem entfernten Endgerät verwendet.
 
4. Verfahren nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei der erste und der zweite Schlüssel-Code mit codierten Adressdaten der Zwischenvorrichtung kombiniert werden und das entfernte Endgerät das gemeinsam verwendete Geheimnis verwendet, um die Adressdaten zu decodieren, um die Identität der Zwischenvorrichtung zu prüfen.
 
5. Verfahren nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei die Zwischenvorrichtung auf ein Merkersignal anspricht, das durch das entfernte Endgerät erzeugt wird, um die empfangenen Daten entweder in Reaktion auf eine erste Einstellung des Merkersignals zu einem Datenspeicher in der Zwischenvorrichtung zum späteren Senden zum Server zu leiten, oder in Reaktion auf eine zweite Einstellung des Merkersignals eine Verbindung zum Server zum Weiterleiten der Daten zum Server zu öffnen.
 
6. Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung, die konfiguriert ist, als ein Zwischenrelais zwischen einem Server und einem oder mehreren entfernten Datenkommunikationsendgeräten zu arbeiten, und Folgendes enthält:

- eine oder mehrere Kommunikationsschnittstellen zur Kommunikation mit dem Server und dem oder jedem entfernten Kommunikationsendgerät und

- ein Authentifizierungssystem, das konfiguriert ist zum

- Empfangen von Herausforderungs- und Antwortdaten vom Server in Bezug auf das oder jedes Kommunikationsendgerät, die für jede entfernte Kommunikationsvorrichtung eine erste Herausforderung, einen ersten Antwortschlüssel und einen zweiten Antwortschlüssel umfassen,

- Senden der ersten Herausforderung dann, wenn die Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung sich aus dem Kontakt mit dem Server und in die Nähe des Datenkommunikationsendgeräts bewegt, zum entsprechenden Datenkommunikationsendgerät;

- Empfangen einer Version des ersten Antwortschlüssels vom entfernten Datenkommunikationsendgerät;

- Vergleichen der Version des ersten Antwortschlüssels, der vom entfernten Datenkommunikationsendgerät empfangen wurde, mit dem ersten Antwortschlüssel, der zuvor vom Server empfangen wurde; und

- Senden des zweiten Schlüssels zum entfernten Datenkommunikationsendgerät.


 
7. Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6, die ausgelegt ist, ein Signal zu senden, das ihren Standort zum Server berichtet.
 
8. Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6 oder 7, die ein Detektionssystem zum Detektieren des oder jedes entfernten Datenkommunikationsendgeräts und Senden der entsprechenden Herausforderungs- und Antwortdaten in Reaktion auf eine derartige Detektion enthält.
 
9. Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6, Anspruch 7 oder Anspruch 8, die einen Speicher zum Speichern einer Folge eines ersten und eines zweiten Schlüssel-Codes für das oder jedes entfernte Endgerät enthält, wobei das Authentifizierungssystem ausgelegt ist, jeden Schlüssel-Code der Reihe nach für mehrere aufeinanderfolgende Verbindungen zum entfernten Kommunikationsendgerät abzurufen.
 
10. Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6, Anspruch 7, Anspruch 8 oder Anspruch 9, wobei das Authentifizierungssystem die Herausforderungsanforderung unter Verwendung des Schlüssel-Codes erzeugt, um einen Identitäts-Code, der der Vorrichtung zugeordnet ist, zu codieren.
 
11. Datenkommunikationsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6, Anspruch 7, Anspruch 8, Anspruch 9 oder Anspruch 10, wobei die Kommunikationsschnittstelle einen Datenspeicher für Daten, die vom entfernten Endgerät empfangen wurden, und eine Detektionsvorrichtung umfasst, um ansprechend auf ein Merkersignal, das in Daten geführt wird, die vom entfernten Endgerät empfangen werden, die empfangenen Daten in Reaktion auf eine erste Einstellung des Merkersignals zum Datenspeicher oder in Reaktion auf eine zweite Einstellung des Merkersignals zum Server zu lenken.
 
12. Computerprogrammelement, das Computerprogrammcode enthält, um, wenn er in eine Kommunikationsvorrichtung geladen und darin ausgeführt wird, die Kommunikationsvorrichtung zu konfigurieren, gemäß einem der Ansprüche 6 bis 11 zu arbeiten.
 


Revendications

1. Procédé d'authentification d'une connexion de communications entre un serveur et un terminal distant au moyen d'un dispositif intermédiaire, dans lequel :

- le serveur génère des premier et deuxième codes clés, les codes clés étant tous deux déduits d'un secret partagé connu du serveur et du terminal distant mais pas du dispositif intermédiaire,

- le serveur transmet les premier et deuxième codes clés au dispositif intermédiaire,

- le terminal distant utilise le secret partagé pour générer un double du premier code clé,

- le dispositif intermédiaire se place hors de contact du serveur,

- le dispositif intermédiaire se place à proximité du terminal distant,

- le terminal distant transmet le premier code clé au dispositif intermédiaire,

- le dispositif intermédiaire compare le premier code clé et le double du premier code clé afin de vérifier l'authenticité du terminal distant,

- le dispositif intermédiaire transmet le deuxième code clé au terminal distant,

- le terminal distant utilise le secret partagé pour générer un double du deuxième code clé,

- le terminal distant compare le deuxième code clé et le double du deuxième code clé afin de vérifier l'authenticité du dispositif intermédiaire.


 
2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les premier et deuxième codes clés sont générés à partir du secret partagé et sont modifiés après chaque utilisation.
 
3. Procédé selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le serveur génère une pluralité de paires de codes clés à usage unique et les transmet au dispositif intermédiaire, et le dispositif intermédiaire utilise chaque paire de codes clés tour à tour pour une série d'interactions d'authentification avec le terminal distant.
 
4. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les premier et deuxième codes clés sont combinés avec des données d'adresse codées du dispositif intermédiaire, et le terminal distant utilise le secret partagé pour décoder les données d'adresse afin de vérifier l'identité du dispositif intermédiaire.
 
5. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le dispositif intermédiaire, en réponse à un signal drapeau généré par le terminal distant, soit achemine les données reçues vers une unité de stockage de données dans le dispositif intermédiaire en vue de leur transmission ultérieure au serveur en réponse à un premier positionnement du signal drapeau, soit ouvre une connexion avec le serveur pour relayer les données au serveur en réponse à un deuxième positionnement du signal drapeau.
 
6. Dispositif de communication de données configuré pour fonctionner comme un relais intermédiaire entre un serveur et un ou plusieurs terminaux de communication de données distants, comportant

- une ou plusieurs interfaces de communication pour la communication avec le serveur et le ou chaque terminal de communication distant,

- un système d'authentification configuré pour :

- recevoir, depuis le serveur, des données de défi et de réponse relatives au ou à chaque terminal de communication distant et comprenant, pour chaque dispositif de communication distant, un premier défi, une première clé de réponse et une deuxième clé de réponse,

- lorsque le dispositif de communication de données se place hors de contact du serveur et à proximité du terminal de communication de données, transmettre le premier défi au terminal de communication de données distant respectif ;

- recevoir, depuis le terminal de communication de données distant, une version de la première clé de réponse,

- comparer la version de la première clé de réponse reçue depuis le terminal de communication de données distant à la première clé de réponse précédemment reçue depuis le serveur,

- et transmettre la deuxième clé au terminal de communication de données distant.


 
7. Dispositif de communication de données selon la revendication 6, conçu pour transmettre au serveur un signal de notification de sa localisation.
 
8. Dispositif de communication de données selon la revendication 6 ou la revendication 7, comportant un système de détection destiné à détecter le ou chaque terminal de communication de données distant et transmettre les données de défi et de réponse respectives en réponse à cette détection.
 
9. Dispositif de communication de données selon la revendication 6, la revendication 7 ou la revendication 8, comportant une mémoire destinée à stocker une séquence de premier et deuxième codes clés pour le ou chaque terminal distant, le système d'authentification étant conçu pour récupérer chaque code clé en séquence pour une pluralité de connexions successives avec le terminal de communication distant.
 
10. Dispositif de communication de données selon la revendication 6, la revendication 7, la revendication 8 ou la revendication 9, dans lequel le système d'authentification génère la requête de défi en utilisant le code clé pour coder un code d'identité associé au dispositif.
 
11. Dispositif de communication de données selon la revendication 6, la revendication 7, la revendication 8 la revendication 9 ou la revendication 10, dans lequel l'interface de communication comprend une unité de stockage de données pour des données reçues depuis le terminal distant et un dispositif de détection qui, en réponse à un signal drapeau véhiculé dans des données reçues depuis le terminal distant, achemine les données reçues vers l'unité de stockage de données en réponse à un premier positionnement du signal drapeau ou vers le serveur en réponse à un deuxième positionnement du signal drapeau.
 
12. Élément de programme d'ordinateur comprenant un code de programme d'ordinateur destiné, lorsqu'il est chargé dans un dispositif de communication et exécuté sur lui, à configurer le dispositif de communication pour le faire fonctionner conformément à l'une quelconque des revendications 6 à 11.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description