Accurate And Efficient Wireless Device Fingerprinting Using Channel State Information

Jingyu Hua Nanjing University, P.R. China
Hongyi Sun Nanjing University, P.R. China
Zhenyu Shen Nanjing University, P.R. China
Zhiyun Qian University of California, Riverside, USA
Sheng Zhong Nanjing University, P.R. China


Due to the loose authentication requirement between access points (APs) and clients, it is notoriously known that WLANs face long-standing threats such as rogue APs and network freeloading. Take the rogue AP problem as an example, unfortunately encryption alone does not provide authentication. APs need to be equipped with certificates that are trusted by clients ahead of time. This requires either the presence of PKI for APs or other forms of pre-established trust (e.g., distributing the certificates offline), none of which is widely used. Before any strong security solution is deployed, we still need a practical solution that can mitigate the problem. In this paper, we explore a non-cryptographic solution that is readily deployable today on end hosts (e.g., smartphones and laptops) without requiring any changes to the APs or the network infrastructure. The solution infers the Carrier Frequency Offsets (CFOs) of wireless devices from Channel State Information (CSI) as their hardware fingerprints without any special hardware requirement. CFO is attributed to the oscillator drift, which is a fundamental physical property that cannot be manipulated easily and remains fairly consistent over time but varies significantly across devices. The real experiments on 23 smartphones and 34 APs (with both identical and different brands) in different scenarios demonstrate that the detection rate could exceed 94%.

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