Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Barry E. Mullins, PhD.


Wireless local area networks are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks due to their contested transmission medium. Access point spoofing, route poisoning, and cryptographic attacks are some of the many mature threats faced by wireless networks. Recent work investigates physical-layer features such as received signal strength or radio frequency fingerprinting to identify and localize malicious devices. This thesis demonstrates a novel and complementary approach to exploiting physical-layer differences among wireless devices that is more energy efficient and invariant with respect to the environment than traditional fingerprinting techniques. Specifically, this methodology exploits subtle design differences among different transceiver hardware types. A software defined radio captures packets with standard-length IEEE 802.11b preambles, manipulates the recorded preambles by shortening their length, then replays the altered packets toward the transceivers under test. Wireless transceivers vary in their ability to receive packets with preambles shorter than the standard. By analyzing differences in packet reception with respect to preamble length, this methodology distinguishes amongst eight transceiver types from three manufacturers. All tests to successfully enumerate the transceivers achieve accuracy rates greater than 99%, while transmitting less than 60 test packets. This research extends previous work illustrating RF fingerprinting techniques through IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocols. The results demonstrate that preamble manipulation is effective for multi-factor device authentication, network intrusion detection, and remote transceiver type fingerprinting in IEEE 802.11b.

AFIT Designator


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