Combating Insider Attacks in IEEE 802.11 Wireless Networks with Broadcast Encryption

Authors: J. Soryal, M. Perera, I. Darwish, N. Fazio, R. Gennaro, and T. Saadawi.

The IEEE 802.11 protocols are used by millions of smartphone and tablet devices to access the Internet via Wi-Fi wireless networks or communicate with one another directly in a peer-to-peer mode. Insider attacks are those originating from a trusted node that had initially passed all the authentication steps to access the network and then got compromised. A trusted node that has turned rogue can easily perform Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks on the Media Access Control (MAC) layer by illegally capturing the channel and preventing other legitimate nodes from communicating with one another. Insider attackers can alter the implementation of the IEEE 802.11 Distributed Coordination Function (DCF) protocol residing in the Network Interface Card (NIC) to illegally increase the probability of successful packet transmissions into the channel at the expenses of nodes that follow the protocol standards. The attacker fools the NIC to upgrade its firmware and forces in a version containing the malicious code. In this paper, we present a distributed solution to detect and isolate the attacker in order to minimize the impact of the DoS attacks on the network. Our detection algorithm enhances the DCF firmware to enable honest nodes to monitor each other's traffic and compare their observations against honest communication patterns derived from a two-dimensional Markov chain. A channel hopping scheme is then used on the physical layer (PHY) to evade the attacker. To facilitate communication among the honest member stations and minimize network downtime, we introduce two isolation algorithms, one based on identity-based encryption and another based on broadcast encryption. Our simulation results show that the latter enjoys quicker recovery time and faster network convergence.

Publication Info:
In the 28th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Applications (AINA '14). Victoria, Canada, May 13-16, 2014.

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