Wireless body area networks (WBANs) are becoming increasingly popular as they
allow individuals to continuously monitor their vitals and physiological
parameters remotely from the hospital. With the spread of the SARS-CoV-2
pandemic, the availability of portable pulse-oximeters and wearable heart rate
detectors has boomed in the market. At the same time, in 2020 we assisted to an
unprecedented increase of healthcare breaches, revealing the extreme
vulnerability of the current generation of WBANs. Therefore, the development of
new security protocols to ensure data protection, authentication, integrity and
privacy within WBANs are highly needed. Here, we targeted a WBAN collecting ECG
signals from different sensor nodes on the individual’s body, we extracted the
inter-pulse interval (i.e., R-R interval) sequence from each of them, and we
developed a new information theoretic key agreement protocol that exploits the
inherent randomness of ECG to ensure authentication between sensor pairs within
the WBAN. After proper pre-processing, we provide an analytical solution that
ensures robust authentication; we provide a unique information reconciliation
matrix, which gives good performance for all ECG sensor pairs; and we can show
that a relationship between information reconciliation and privacy
amplification matrices can be found. Finally, we show the trade-off between the
level of security, in terms of key generation rate, and the complexity of the
error correction scheme implemented in the system.

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