Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) have been the popular targets for cyber attacks these days. One type of network topology for WSNs, the scale-free topology, can effectively withstand random attacks in which the nodes in the topology are randomly selected as targets. However, it is fragile to malicious attacks in which the nodes with high node degrees are selected as targets. Thus, how to improve the robustness of the scale-free topology against malicious attacks becomes a critical issue. To tackle this problem, this paper proposes a Robustness Optimization scheme with multi-population Co-evolution for scale-free wireless sensor networKS (ROCKS) to improve the robustness of the scale-free topology. We build initial scale-free topologies according to the characteristics of WSNs in the real-world environment. Then, we apply our ROCKS with novel crossover operator and mutation operator to optimize the robustness of the scale-free topologies constructed for WSNs. Fora scale-free WSNs topology, our proposed algorithm keeps the initial degree of each node unchanged such that the optimized topology remains scale-free. Based on a well-known metric for the robustness against malicious attacks, our experiment results show that ROCKS roughly doubles the robustness of initial scale-free WSNs, and outperforms two existing algorithms by about 16%when the network size is large
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