Virtual Pseudonym-Changing and Dynamic Grouping Policy for Privacy Preservation in VANETs

Ikram Ullah, Munam Ali Shah, Abid Khan, Carsten Maple, Abdul Waheed

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Location privacy is a critical problem in the vehicular communication networks. Vehicles broadcast their road status information to other entities in the network through beacon messages to inform other entities in the network. The beacon message content consists of the vehicle ID, speed, direction, position, and other information. An adversary could use vehicle identity and positioning information to determine vehicle driver behavior and identity at different visited location spots. A pseudonym can be used instead of the vehicle ID to help in the vehicle location privacy. These pseudonyms should be changed in appropriate way to produce uncertainty for any adversary attempting to identify a vehicle at different locations. In the existing research literature, pseudonyms are changed during silent mode between neighbors. However, the use of a short silent period and the visibility of pseudonyms of direct neighbors provides a mechanism for an adversary to determine the identity of a target vehicle at specific locations. Moreover, privacy is provided to the driver, only within the RSU range; outside it, there is no privacy protection. In this research, we address the problem of location privacy in a highway scenario, where vehicles are traveling at high speeds with diverse traffic density. We propose a Dynamic Grouping and Virtual Pseudonym-Changing (DGVP) scheme for vehicle location privacy. Dynamic groups are formed based on similar status vehicles and cooperatively change pseudonyms. In the case of low traffic density, we use a virtual pseudonym update process. We formally present the model and specify the scheme through High-Level Petri Nets (HLPN). The simulation results indicate that the proposed method improves the anonymity set size and entropy, provides lower traceability, reduces impact on vehicular network applications, and has lower computation cost compared to existing research work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3077
Number of pages41
JournalSensors (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021


  • Anonymization
  • Grouping
  • LBS
  • Location privacy
  • Pseudonym-changing
  • Vehicular network


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