NeTS WN: Protecting Services for Emerging Wireless Telecommunications Infrastructure

Award #: 0721579
Amount Awarded: $400,000
Sponsoring Organization: NSF (CNS)
Grant Period: 2007-2010
Primary Investigator(s): Thomas La Porta (PI), Trent Jaeger (Co-PI) and Patrick McDaniel (Co-PI)


In this project we explore the vulnerabilities inherent to and countermeasures appropriate for evolving telecommunications networks. We perform a broad study of the availability, integrity and confidentiality of telecommunications networks via formal analysis, gray-box testing, and simulation. We characterize countermeasures addressing attacks on these communication properties. We are working to integrate the solutions created in this work with existing telecommunications and IP networks and communication systems. In so doing, we provide protection for critical pieces of national communications infrastructure while allowing users to receive the full benefits from interconnected voice and data systems.

We are producing: 1) realistic threat and adversary models, 2) a taxonomy of vulnerabilities in current and next generation cellular networks, 3) techniques to identify and characterize vulnerabilities in these systems, 4) domain specific and general detection and mitigation strategies and their inherent tradeoffs and 5) solutions integrated the into current telecommunications infrastructure, public networks and end devices.

The work allows telecommunications networks to continue to provide for critical communication in times of normal and emergency use while enabling increased connectivity to third party data networks such as the Internet. We are leveraging our relationships with industry and regulatory and standards bodies to ensure that the techniques arising from this work are brought to the attention of Internet and telecommunications providers.

Related Research Projects

Telecommunications Security

Mobile Phones

Related Publications

William Enck, Patrick Traynor, Patrick McDaniel and Thomas La Porta, Exploiting Open Functionality in SMS-Capable Cellular Networks, Proceedings of 12th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), Alexandria, VA, November 2005. [Full Paper: pdf]

Patrick Traynor, William Enck, Patrick McDaniel and Thomas La Porta, Mitigating Attacks on Open Functionality in SMS-Capable Cellular Networks, Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom), September 2006. [Full Paper: pdf]

Patrick Traynor, Patrick McDaniel and Thomas La Porta, On Attack Causality in Internet-Connected Cellular Networks, Proceedings of the 16th USENIX Security Symposium (SECURITY), August 2007.