5 min reading

1 November 2023

1 November 2023

How Secure LoRaWAN Networks are

How Secure LoRaWAN Networks are
How Secure LoRaWAN Networks are

How Secure is LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN® is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) protocol that provides secure communication for the Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M), smart city, and industrial applications. It is designed to support low-cost, mobile, and secure bi-directional communication.

The security of LoRaWAN is a fundamental aspect of its design, ensuring that data transmitted over the network remains protected from unauthorized access and tampering. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of LoRaWAN® security and how it ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the transmitted data.

Properties of LoRaWAN® Security

The security mechanisms implemented in LoRaWAN® are designed to meet the specific requirements of IoT networks. These properties include mutual authentication, integrity protection, and confidentiality. Mutual authentication ensures that only genuine and authorized devices can join the network, while integrity protection safeguards the data against tampering.

Additionally, LoRaWAN® ensures the end-to-end encryption algorithm for application payloads, providing confidentiality of the transmitted data. These properties collectively ensure a robust and secure communication platform for IoT applications.

LoRaWAN® Security Implementation

The implementation of LoRaWAN® security relies on well-tested and standardized cryptographic algorithms. The use of industry-standard AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) algorithms ensures the confidentiality and integrity of data transmitted over the network.

LoRaWAN® devices are personalized with unique AES keys, which are used for device authentication and encryption of application payloads. The use of encryption and authentication mechanisms, combined with secure key distribution procedures, ensures the authenticity and security of the transmitted data.

Additionally, the LoRaWAN® protocol employs two-layer security, i.e., one layer for the network and one for the application. Network encryption ensures the authenticity of the end device and protects against replay attacks, while application encryption protects against eavesdropping and tampering.

Securing LoRaWAN® Application Payloads

Various security measures are used by LoRaWAN® to secure application payloads, including mutual authentication, data integrity, confidentiality protection, physical security, cryptography, session key distribution, backend interface security, and implementation/deployment security practices.

Mutual Authentication

Mutual authentication is established between the LoRaWAN® end-device and the network during the network join procedure. This ensures that only genuine and authorized devices can join the network, providing an additional layer of security.

Data Integrity

LoRaWAN® ensures the integrity of the transmitted data by using integrity protection mechanisms, such as AES-CMAC, which prevent unauthorized tampering or modifications of the data.

Confidentiality Protection

All application payloads exchanged between the LoRaWAN® end devices and application servers are encrypted using AES-CTR. This ensures that the data remains confidential and cannot be understood by unauthorized parties.

Physical Security of LoRaWAN® Devices

The physical security of LoRaWAN® devices is crucial for ensuring the overall security of the network. The devices are personalized with unique AES keys, and their physical security is essential to prevent unauthorized access and protect the keys from extraction.


LoRaWAN® uses AES cryptographic algorithms combined with various modes of operation, such as CMAC for integrity protection and CTR for encryption. This ensures the robustness and security of the cryptographic mechanisms used in the network.

Session Key Distribution

LoRaWAN® employs secure session key distribution procedures for distributing the necessary root keys between the LoRaWAN® devices and the network/application servers. This ensures that the keys used for encryption and authentication are securely shared and cannot be easily compromised.

Backend Interfaces Security

The backend interfaces in LoRaWAN® involve control and data signalling between the network and application servers. These interfaces can be secured using HTTP, HTTPS, and VPN technologies, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the communication.

Implementation and Deployment Security

The overall security of a LoRaWAN® network also depends on the specific implementation and deployment practices. Manufacturers need to ensure the implementation of proper security measures, such as secure storage of keys and robust device authentication mechanisms. Similarly, network operators need to consider deployment security to prevent unauthorized access or tampering.

What are the Vulnerabilities of LoRaWAN?

Like any wireless communication system, LoRaWAN® has vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Understanding these risks is essential in implementing robust security measures to protect LoRaWAN® networks and ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data transmitted over them.

Physical Layer Attacks

Attackers can target the physical layer of LoRaWAN® to disrupt or manipulate wireless communication. These attacks include signal jamming, spoofing, and eavesdropping.

Radio Frequency (RF) Attacks

RF attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the radio frequency spectrum used by LoRaWAN®. Attackers can perform unauthorized transmissions, interfere with legitimate transmissions, or perform attacks that result in a denial of service.

Replay Attacks

Replay attacks involve the unauthorized retransmission of previously captured data frames. Attackers can intercept and replay data frames, leading to potential data integrity and security issues.

Key Management Attacks

LoRaWAN® relies on key management mechanisms to ensure secure communication. Key management attacks target these mechanisms, attempting to compromise the encryption keys used in the communication process.

Malicious Node Attacks

Malicious node attacks exploit vulnerabilities in individual end devices or gateways within the LoRaWAN® network. Attackers can compromise these devices to gain unauthorized access, disrupt network operations, or compromise the security of the entire network.

Network Attacks

Network attacks target weaknesses in the LoRaWAN® network infrastructure. These attacks can include unauthorized access to network resources, unauthorized network reconfiguration, or the injection of malicious network traffic.

How LoRa Sessions Work

LoRa™ utilizes various mechanisms and protocols to establish and maintain communication sessions between devices and gateways. There are two main methods for joining a LoRaWAN® network: Over the Air Activation (OTAA) and Activation by Personalization (ABP). They differ in how the device is authenticated and authorized to join the network and the level of security associated with the session.


OTAA is a dynamic session activation process, meaning a device must request and receive activation information from the network server each time it joins a network. During this process, the device is assigned a unique network ID and encryption keys, which it uses to communicate with the network. The OTAA process takes longer to complete compared to ABP, as it requires multiple messages to be exchanged between the device and the network server.

The OTAA process used to set up a network session consists of the following steps:

  • Join Request: The device initiates the join process by sending a Join Request message to the network server.
  • Join Accept: If the device is authorized to join the network, the server sends a Join Accept message to the device. This message contains the network ID and encryption keys.
  • Activate: After receiving the Join Accept message, the device activates itself on the network using the assigned keys.

OTAA is considered more secure compared to ABP as it uses dynamic keys that are unique to each device. This makes it harder for an attacker to impersonate a device or capture and decode messages as they contain unique encryption keys.

Activation by Personalization (ABP), on the other hand, is a static session activation process in which a device is assigned pre-configured session parameters. ABP is faster compared to OTAA as the device does not need to communicate with the network server to activate.

The ABP process consists of the following steps:

  • Session keys: The device is pre-configured with a set of static session keys shared between the device and the network.
  • Activation: The device activates itself on the network using the pre-configured session keys.

ABP is still secure but less secure compared to OTAA, as it uses static keys that are shared between multiple devices. This makes it easier for an attacker to impersonate a device or capture and decode messages as they contain the same encryption keys as other devices.


To sum up, LoRaWAN® provides a secure communication platform, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of transmitted data. However, it is essential to understand and address the vulnerabilities to ensure the continued security and integrity of IoT networks. By implementing best practices and staying vigilant against potential threats, organizations can leverage the full potential of LoRaWAN® while maintaining robust security for their IoT applications.

The decision to buy LoRaWAN sensors is a wise choice for organizations looking to implement IoT solutions. LoRaWAN® secure communication platform, coupled with its long-range capabilities and low power consumption, makes it an ideal solution for various use cases, including smart cities, agriculture, and industrial settings.

TEKTELIC Communications is a leading provider of LoRaWAN gateways, devices, and end-to-end solutions. Our products, such as the SEAL wearable tracker or BREEZE Smart Room sensor, are designed to meet the needs of various industries and use cases, making it easier for organizations to deploy and manage their LoRaWAN® networks.

Overall, by choosing LoRaWAN® sensors from a trusted provider like TEKTELIC, you can optimize your IoT solutions while maintaining robust security measures.

Image credits: Designed by pikisuperstar / Freepik

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