Linking wireless devices using information contained in Wi-Fi probe requests

Mathieu Cunche 1 Mohamed Ali Kaafar 1 Roksana Boreli 2
1 PRIVATICS - Privacy Models, Architectures and Tools for the Information Society
Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, CITI - CITI Centre of Innovation in Telecommunications and Integration of services
Abstract : Active service discovery in Wi-Fi involves wireless stations broadcasting their Wi-Fi fingerprint, i.e. the \SSIDs\ of their preferred wireless networks. The content of those Wi-Fi fingerprints can reveal different types of information about the owner. We focus on the relation between the fingerprints and the links between the owners. Our hypothesis is that social links between devices owners can be identified by exploiting the information contained in the fingerprint. More specifically we propose to consider the similarity between fingerprints as a metric, with the underlying idea: similar fingerprints are likely to be linked. We first study the performances of several similarity metrics on a controlled dataset and then apply the designed classifier to a dataset collected in the wild. Finally we discuss potential countermeasures and propose a new one based on geolocation. This study is based on a dataset collected in Sydney, Australia, composed of fingerprints belonging to more than 8000 devices.
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Mathieu Cunche, Mohamed Ali Kaafar, Roksana Boreli. Linking wireless devices using information contained in Wi-Fi probe requests. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, Elsevier, 2013, ⟨10.1016/j.pmcj.2013.04.001⟩. ⟨hal-00816374⟩

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