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Location privacy in LTE: a case study on exploiting the cellular signaling plane's timing advance

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Authors
Roth, John D.
Tummala, Murali
McEachen, John C.
Scrofani, James W.
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Date of Issue
2017
Date
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HCSS
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Abstract
Location privacy is an oft-overlooked, but exceedingly important niche of the overall privacy macrocosm. An ambition of this work is to raise awareness of concerns relating to location privacy in cellular networks. To this end, we will demonstrate how user location information is leaked through a vulnerability, viz. the timing advance (TA) parameter, in the Long Term Evolution (LTE) signaling plane and how the position estimate that results from that parameter can be refined through a previously introduced method called Cellular Synchronization Assisted Refinement (CeSAR) [1]. With CeSAR, positioning accuracies that meet or exceed the FCC’s E-911 mandate are possible making CeSAR simultaneously a candidate technology for meeting the FCC’s wireless localization requirements and a demonstration of the alarming level of location information sent over the air. We also introduce a geographically diverse data set of TAs collected from actual LTE network implementations utilizing different cell phone chipsets. With this data set we show the appropriateness of modeling the error associated with a TA as normally distributed.
Type
Article
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Department
Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
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Format
8 p.
Citation
J.D. Roth, M. Tummala, J.C. McEachen, J.W. Scrofani, "Location privacy in LTE: a case study on exploiting the cellular signaling plane's timing advance," Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii Conference on System Science, 2017, pp. 6285-6292.
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This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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