A wireless sensor network consists of small, limited-resource embedded systems exchanging environment data and activating controls. These networks can be deployed in hostile environments to monitor wildlife habitats, implemented in factories to locate mobile equipment, and installed in home environments to optimize the use of utilities. Each of these scenarios requires network security to protect the network data. The IEEE 802.15.4 standard is designed for WSN communication, yet the standard states that it is not responsible for defining the initialization, distribution, updating, or management of network public keys. Individuals seeking to research security topics will find that there are many 802.15.4-compliant development hardware kits available to purchase. However, these kits are not easily compared to each other without first-hand experience. Further, not all available kits are suitable for research in WSN security. This thesis evaluates a broad spectrum of 802.15.4 development kits for security studies. Three promising kits are examined in detail: Crossbow MICAz, Freescale MC1321x, and the Sun SPOT. These kits are evaluated based on their hardware, software, development environment, additional libraries, additional tools, and cost. Recommendations are made to security researchers advising which kits to use depending on their design needs and priorities. Suggestions are made to each company on how to further improve their kits for security research.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





802.15.4, IEEE 802.15.4, zigbee, security, research, crossbow, micaz, freescale, mc1321x, sun, sun spot, wireless sensor network, wsn, development kit, platform, hardware, software, development, comparison, selection, recommendations

Technology Emphasis

Information Technology (IT)