In real time: Physical layer traffic analysis for 802.11 (PETS 2009)

6 August 2009

Today morning at PETS 2009, the paper on “Physical Layer Attacks on Unlinkability in Wireless LANs” was presented. The idea is that despite all anonymization techniques at the logical layers, though IP address modulation, the physical location of the IEEE802.11 transmitters can be localised, and thus unlinkable packets emanating from it linked together.

The approach used to do this, uses signal strength and triangulation techniques, with a machine learning twist, to cluster together emissions and link them to the same transmitter. A set of countermeasures is also presented, where transmitters modulate their signal strength to foil this clustering.

The attacker model was restricted to using commodity hardware, so physical device fingerprinting attacks were not considered.

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