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With the proliferation of diverse wireless devices, there is an increasing concern about the security of location information which can be spoofed or disrupted by adversaries. This paper investigates the characterization and detection of location spoofing attacks, specifically those which are attempting to falsify (degrade) the position estimate through signal strength based attacks. Since the physical-layer approach identifies and assesses the security risk of position information based solely on using received signal strength (RSS), it is applicable to nearly any practical wireless network. In this paper, we characterize the impact of signal strength and beamforming attacks on range estimates and the resulting position estimate. It is shown that such attacks can be characterized by a scaling factor that biases the individual range estimators either uniformly or selectively. We then identify the more severe types of attacks, and develop an attack detection approach which does not rely on a priori knowledge (either statistical or environmental). The resulting approach, which exploits the dissimilar behavior of two RSS-based estimators when under attack, is shown to be effective at detecting both types of attacks with the detection rate increasing with the severity of the induced location error.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2012