``Fingerprinting of Cellular Infrastructure based on Broadcast Information"
Anup Kiran Bhattacharjee, Stefano Cecconello, Fernando Kuipers, and Georgios Smaragdakis.
European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS) 2023.

To avoid exploitation of known vulnerabilities, it is standard security practice to not disclose any model information regarding the antennas used in cellular infrastructure. However, in this work, we show that end-user devices receive enough information to infer, with high accuracy, the model-family of antennas. We demonstrate how low-cost hardware and software setups can fingerprint the cellular infrastructure of whole regions within a few minutes by only listening to cellular broadcast messages. To show the effectiveness and hence risk of such fingerprinting, we collected an extensive dataset of broadcast messages from three different countries. We then trained a machine-learning model to classify broadcast messages based on the family of models they belong to. Our results reveal a worryingly high average accuracy of 97% for model-family classification. We further discuss how inferring the model-family with such high accuracy can lead to a class of identification attacks on cellular infrastructure and we subsequently suggest countermeasures to mitigate the fingerprint effectiveness.

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