Experimental Analysis of Subscribers’ Privacy Exposure by LTE Paging
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionWireless personal communications. 2019, 1-9. 10.1007/s11277-019-06585-7
Over the last years, considerable attention has been given to the privacy of individuals in wireless environments. Although significantly improved over the previous generations of mobile networks, LTE still exposes vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. This might be the case of paging messages, wake-up notifications that target specific subscribers, and that are broadcasted in clear over the radio interface. If they are not properly implemented, paging messages can expose the identity of subscribers and furthermore provide information about their location. It is therefore important that mobile network operators comply with the recommendations and implement the appropriate mechanisms to mitigate attacks. In this paper, we verify by experiment that paging messages can be captured and decoded by using minimal technical skills and publicly available tools. Moreover, we present a general experimental method to test privacy exposure by LTE paging messages, and we conduct a case study on three different LTE mobile operators.