Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Quantifying and improving wireless privacy
by McCoy, Damon Liwanu, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2009, 206; 3387545
Abstract (Summary)

Wireless devices have become ubiquitous in the daily lives of most people, and thus magnify their potential to harm users' privacy. The primary goal of this dissertation is to identify and quantify privacy vulnerabilities in common mobile wireless devices and present practical methods to mitigate them. In this dissertation a holistic approach to achieve the goal of improving wireless privacy is taken, not focusing on a single layer, but focusing on the two key substrate layers, the link-layer and the physical-layer, and their interactions.

To understand the nature and different types of privacy threats, a detailed measurement study of link-layer and physical-layer behavior of wireless devices is conducted. Using these measurements, it is demonstrated that wireless device drivers can be fingerprinted quickly and accurately using link-layer information, and that messages can be correlated back to their transmitting device using physical-layer information, even if there are no identifiers present at the link-layer. In response to these threats, the first step towards improving privacy is the design and building of a prototype implementation of a wireless protocol that encrypts all bits transmitted at the link-layer. Second, this work presents techniques to mitigate physical layer-privacy threats and quantify their effectiveness. Finally, it presents and evaluates methods to facilitate the establishment of trust in wireless protocols without requiring an out-of-band exchange of information. The key contribution of this dissertation is to present a framework of practical and generalized solutions that improve wireless privacy as a whole, and that can be applied to current and future wireless protocols.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sicker, Douglas, Grunwald, Dirk
Commitee: Brown, Timothy, Han, Richard, Kohno, Tadayoshi
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Computer Science
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Computer science
Keywords: Link layer information, Physical layer information, Privacy threats, Wireless privacy
Publication Number: 3387545
ISBN: 9781109536034
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