FBS-Radar: Uncovering Fake Base Stations at Scale in the Wild
Download: Paper (PDF)
Date: 27 Feb 2017
Document Type: Reports
Associated Event: NDSS Symposium 2017
Base stations constitute the basic infrastructure of today s cellular networks. Unfortunately, vulnerabilities in the GSM (2G) network protocol enable the creation of fake base stations (FBSes) that are not authorized by network operators. Criminal gangs are using FBSes to directly attack users by sending spam and fraud SMS messages, even if the users have access to 3G/4G networks. In this paper, we present the design, deployment, and evolution of an FBS detection system called FBS-Radar, based on crowdsourced data of nearly 100M users. In particular, we evaluate five different metrics for identifying FBSes in the wild, and find that FBSes can be precisely identified without sacrificing user privacy. Additionally, we present a novel method for accurately geolocating FBSes while incurring negligible impact on end-user devices. Our system protects users from millions of spam and fraud SMS messages per day, and has helped the authorities arrest hundreds of FBS operators.