To main content

On the Impact of Rogue Base Stations in 4G/LTE Self Organizing Networks


Mobile network operators choose Self Organizing Network (SON) concept as a cost-effective method to deploy LTE/4G networks and meet user expectations for high quality of service and bandwidth. The main objective of SON is to introduce automation into network management activities and reduce human intervention. SON enabled LTE networks heavily rely on the information acquired from mobile phones to provide self-configuration, self-optimization, and self-healing features. However, mobile phones can be attacked over-the-air using rogue base stations. In this paper, we carefully study SON related LTE/4G security specifications and reveal several vulnerabilities. Our key idea is to introduce a rogue eNodeB that uses legitimate mobile devices as a covert channel to launch attacks against SON enabled LTE networks.

We demonstrate low-cost, practical, silent and persistent Denial of Service attacks against the network and end-users by injecting fake measurement and configuration information into the SON system. An active attacker can shut down network services in 2 km2 area of a city for a certain period of time and also block network services to a selective set of mobile phones in a targeted area of 200 m to 2 km in radius. With the help of low cost tools, we design an experimental setup and evaluate these attacks on commercial networks. We present strategies to mitigate our attacks and outline possible reasons that may explain why these vulnerabilities exist in the system.


Academic chapter/article/Conference paper


  • EC/H2020 / 780139





  • Technical University Berlin
  • SINTEF Digital / Software Engineering, Safety and Security
  • University of Oxford




Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)


WiSec '18 Proceedings of the 11th ACM Conference on Security & Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, Stockholm, Sweden, June 18-20, 2018




75 - 86

View this publication at Cristin