[Submitted on 15 May 2024]

View a PDF of the paper titled Reduce to the MACs — Privacy Friendly Generic Probe Requests, by Johanna Ansohn McDougall and 4 other authors

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Abstract:Abstract. Since the introduction of active discovery in Wi-Fi networks, users can be tracked via their probe requests. Although manufacturers typically try to conceal Media Access Control (MAC) addresses using MAC address randomisation, probe requests still contain Information Elements (IEs) that facilitate device identification. This paper introduces generic probe requests: By removing all unnecessary information from IEs, the requests become indistinguishable from one another, letting single devices disappear in the largest possible anonymity set. Conducting a comprehensive evaluation, we demonstrate that a large IE set contained within undirected probe requests does not necessarily imply fast connection establishment. Furthermore, we show that minimising IEs to nothing but Supported Rates would enable 82.55% of the devices to share the same anonymity set. Our contributions provide a significant advancement in the pursuit of robust privacy solutions for wireless networks, paving the way for more user anonymity and less surveillance in wireless communication ecosystems.

Submission history

From: Johanna Ansohn McDougall [view email]
Wed, 15 May 2024 10:18:30 UTC (1,185 KB)

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