Towards linking social media profiles with user’s WiFi preferred network list


Considering the ubiquity of WiFi enabled devices and user’s mobility, location privacy within WiFi networks is one of the focus points of many researchers. Preferred Network Lists (PNL), within which devices store a list of names of previously used hotspots - Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs), is transmitted in clear by a portion of devices as a part of WiFi connection protocol. PNL has proven to be one exceptionally interesting source of private data on user’s previous whereabouts. However, since the PNL datasets are anonymized, most of the available work focuses on groups of users as opposed to one particular user. In this paper we work towards finding the name of the person behind the device’s PNL. We introduce a novel SSID - location tag matching function, followed by an algorithm used for intersecting large PNL datasets with localization tags on Instagram social network. The algorithm enables us to match the user’s MAC address and PNL with his full name, photos and activities. We find that deanonymization of a MAC address provides serious implications for potential long term tracking. We tested our work in real life conditions on a large scale music festival. To approach the ground truth we conducted hand check tests performed by 10 testers who concluded that more than 50% of the proposed matches were correct.

Ad Hoc Networks
Associate Professor

My research interests include IoT, usable security, location privacy and machine learning.