The feasibility of launching and detecting jamming attacks in wireless networks

Wenyuan Xu, Wade Trappe, Yanyong Zhang, Timothy Wood

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

795 Scopus citations


Wireless networks are built upon a shared medium that makes it easy for adversaries to launch jamming-style attacks. These attacks can be easily accomplished by an adversary emitting radio frequency signals that do not follow an underlying MAC protocol. Jamming attacks can severely interfere with the normal operation of wireless networks and, consequently, mechanisms are needed that can cope with jamming attacks. In this paper, we examine radio interference attacks from both sides of the issue: first, we study the problem of conducting radio interference attacks on wireless networks, and second we examine the critical issue of diagnosing the presence of jamming attacks. Specifically, we propose four different jamming attack models that can be used by an adversary to disable the operation of a wireless network, and evaluate their effectiveness in terms of how each method affects the ability of a wireless node to send and receive packets. We then discuss different measurements that serve as the basis for detecting a jamming attack, and explore scenarios where each measurement by itself is not enough to reliably classify the presence of a jamming attack. In particular, we observe that signal strength and carrier sensing time are unable to conclusively detect the presence of a jammer. Further, we observe that although by using packet delivery ratio we may differentiate between congested and jammed scenarios, we are nonetheless unable to conclude whether poor link utility is due to jamming or the mobility of nodes. The fact that no single measurement is sufficient for reliably classifying the presence of a jammer is an important observation, and necessitates the development of enhanced detection schemes that can remove ambiguity when detecting a jammer. To address this need, we propose two enhanced detection protocols that employ consistency checking. The first scheme employs signal strength measurements as a reactive consistency check for poor packet delivery ratios, while the second scheme employs location information to serve as the consistency check. Throughout our discussions, we examine the feasibility and effectiveness of jamming attacks and detection schemes using the MICA2 Mote platform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2005
EventMOBIHOC 2005: 6th ACM International Symposium on Mobile Ad Hoc Networking and Computing - Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States
Duration: May 25 2005May 28 2005


OtherMOBIHOC 2005: 6th ACM International Symposium on Mobile Ad Hoc Networking and Computing
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityUrbana-Champaign, IL

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Denial of Service
  • Jammer detection
  • Jamming


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