User authentication is a crucial service in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) that is becoming increasingly common in WSNs because wireless sensor nodes are typically deployed in an unattended environment, leaving them open to possible hostile network attack. Because wireless sensor nodes are limited in computing power, data storage and communication capabilities, any user authentication protocol must be designed to operate efficiently in a resource constrained environment. In this paper, we review several proposed WSN user authentication protocols, with a detailed review of the M.L Das protocol and a cryptanalysis of Das’ protocol that shows several security weaknesses. Furthermore, this paper proposes an ECC-based user authentication protocol that resolves these weaknesses. According to our analysis of security of the ECC-based protocol, it is suitable for applications with higher security requirements. Finally, we present a comparison of security, computation, and communication costs and performances for the proposed protocols. The ECC-based protocol is shown to be suitable for higher security WSNs.