Attacks on Physical-Layer Identification

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Executive Summary

Physical-layer identification of wireless devices, commonly referred to as Radio Frequency (RF) fingerprinting, is the process of identifying a device based on transmission imperfections exhibited by its radio transceiver. It can be used to improve access control in wireless networks, prevent device cloning and complement message authentication protocols. This paper studies the feasibility of performing impersonation attacks on the modulation-based and transient-based fingerprinting techniques. Both techniques are vulnerable to impersonation attacks; however, transient-based techniques are more difficult to reproduce due to the effects of the wireless channel and antenna in their recording process. The authors assess the feasibility of performing impersonation attacks by extensive measurements as well as simulations using collected data from wireless devices.

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