1. Protecting the 4G and 5G Cellular Paging Protocols against Security and Privacy Attacks 2020 CellularProtocols PETS petsymposium.org
    Ankush Singla, Syed Rafiul Hussain, Omar Chowdhury, Elisa Bertino, Ninghui Li

    This paper focuses on protecting the cellular paging protocol — which balances between the quality-of-service and battery consumption of a device— against security and privacy attacks. Attacks against this protocol can have severe repercussions, for instance,allowing attacker to infer a victim’s location, leak a victim’s IMSI, and inject fabricated emergency alerts.To secure the protocol, we first identify the underlying design weaknesses enabling such attacks and then pro-pose efficient and backward-compatible approaches to address these weaknesses. We also demonstrate the deployment feasibility of our enhanced paging protocol by implementing it on an open-source cellular protocol library and commodity hardware. Our evaluation demonstrates that the enhanced protocol can thwart attacks without incurring substantial overhead.

  2. Component-Based Formal Analysis of 5G-AKA: Channel Assumptions and Session Confusion 2019 5G CellularProtocols FormalVerification NDSS ndss-symposium.org
    Cas Cremers and Martin Dehnel-Wild

    The 5G mobile telephony standards are nearing completion; upon adoption these will be used by billions across the globe. Ensuring the security of 5G communication is of the utmost importance, building trust in a critical component of everyday life and national infrastructure.


    We perform a fine-grained formal analysis of 5G’s main authentication and key agreement protocol (5G-AKA), and provide the first models that explicitly consider all parties defined by the protocol specification. Our formal analysis reveals that the security of 5G-AKA critically relies on unstated assumptions on the inner workings of the underlying channels. In practice this means that following the 5G-AKA specification, a provider can easily and ‘correctly’ implement the standard insecurely, leaving the protocol vulnerable to a security-critical race condition. We then provide the first models and analysis considering component and channel compromise in 5G, the results of which further demonstrate the fragility and subtle trust assumptions of the 5G-AKA protocol.


    We propose formally verified fixes to the encountered issues, and we have worked with 3GPP to ensure that these fixes are adopted.