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Researchers Create Attacks That Compromise LTE Data Communication

July 02, 2018 / Ionut Arghire

Newly devised attacks on the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless standard break the confidentiality and privacy of communication, a team of researchers claim. In a newly published paper (PDF), researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum and New York University Abu Dhabi present a set of attacks against LTE’s data link layer (layer two) protocols, which could be used to identify mobile users within a cell, learn what websites the user visits, and even modify the message payload. A stealthy attacker, the researchers say, could perform an identity mapping attack and map the user’s temporary network identity (TMSI) to the temporary radio identity (RNTI). Both pieces of information are previously unknown to the attacker but are both contained in the radio packets.  “More specifically, we demonstrate how an attacker can precisely localize and identify a user within the cell, distinguish multiple transmission streams, and use this information as a stepping stone f...