PhD Seminar: Decentralized Identity and Access Management Framework for Internet of Things Devices

Thursday, May 7, 2020 9:00 am - 9:00 am EDT

Candidate: Ahmad Sghaier Omar

Title: Decentralized Identity and Access Management Framework for Internet of Things Devices

Date: May 7, 2020

Time: 9:00 AM


Supervisor(s): Basir, Otman



The emerging of Internet of Things (IoT) domain is about connecting people and devices and systems together via sensors and actuators, to collect meaningful information from the devices surrounding environment and take actions to enhance productivity and efficiency. The proliferation of IoT devices from around few billion devices today to over 50 billion in the next few years spanning over heterogeneous networks defines a new paradigm shift for many industrial and smart connectivity applications. The existing IoT networks faces a number of operational challenges linked to devices management, capability of devices’ mutual authentication and authorization.


While significant progress has been made in adopting existing connectivity and management frameworks, yet most of these frameworks are designed to work for unconstrained devices connected in centralized networks. On the other hand, IoT devices are constrained devices with tendency to work and operate in decentralized and peer-to-peer arrangement. This tendency towards peer-to-peer service exchange resulted that many of the existing frameworks fails to address the main challenges faced by the need to offer ownership of devices and the generated data to the actual users. Moreover, the diversified list of devices and offered services impose that more granular access control mechanisms are required to limit the exposure of the devices to external threats and provide a finer access control policies under control of the device owner without the need for a middleman.


This works addresses these challenges by utilizing the concepts of decentralizations introduced in Distributed Ledger (DLT) technologies and capability of automating business flows through smart contracts. The proposed work utilizes the concepts of decentralized identifiers (DIDs) for establishing a decentralized devices identity management framework and exploits Blockchain tokenization through both fungible and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to build a self-controlled and self-contained access control policy based on capability-based access control model (CapBAC). The defined framework provides a layered approach that builds on identity management as the foundation to enable authentication and authorization processes and establish a mechanism for accounting through the adoption of standardized DLT tokenization structure.


The proposed framework is demonstrated through implementing a number of use cases that addresses issues related identity management in the industries that suffer losses in billions of dollars due to counterfeiting and lack of global and immutable identity records. The system also has been analyzed in the case of issuing authorization tokens where it is expected that DLT consensus mechanisms will introduce major performance hurdles. A proof of concept emulating establishing concurrent connections to a single device presented no timed-out requests at 200 concurrent connections and a rise in the timed-out requests ratio to 5% at 600 connections. The analysis showed also that a considerable overhead in data link budget of 10.4% is recorded due to the use of self-contained policy token which is tradeoff between building self-contained access tokens with no middleman and link cost.