Partial Deafness: A Novel Denial-of-Service Attack in 802.11 Networks

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Executive Summary

The authors present a new denial-of-service attack against 802.11 wireless networks. Their attack exploits previously discovered performance degradation in networks with substantial rate diversity. In their attack, the attacker artificially reduces his link quality by not acknowledging receptions (which they call "Partial deafness" because an attacker pretends to have not heard some of the transmission), thereby exploiting the re-transmission and rate adaptation mechanisms to reduce Medium Access Control (MAC)-layer performance. As compared to previously proposed attacks, the partial deafness attack is particularly strong because the attacker does not necessarily need any advantage over normal users in terms of transmission power, computation resources, or channel condition.

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