Defending against Sybil Devices in Crowdsourced Mapping Services

Gang Wang
Bolun Wang
Tianyi Wang
Ana Nika
Haitao Zheng
Ben Y. Zhao

Proceedings of 14th ACM International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (MobiSys 2016)

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Paper Abstract

Real-time crowdsourced maps such as Waze provide timely updates on traffic, congestion, accidents and points of interest. In this paper, we demonstrate how lack of strong location authentication allows creation of software-based Sybil devices that expose crowdsourced map systems to a variety of security and privacy attacks. Our experiments show that a single Sybil device with limited resources can cause havoc on Waze, reporting false congestion and accidents and automatically rerouting user traffic. More importantly, we describe techniques to generate Sybil devices at scale, creating armies of virtual vehicles capable of remotely tracking precise movements for large user populations while avoiding detection. We propose a new approach to defend against Sybil devices based on co-location edges, authenticated records that attest to the one-time physical co-location of a pair of devices. Over time, colocation edges combine to form large proximity graphs that attest to physical interactions between devices, allowing scalable detection of virtual vehicles. We demonstrate the efficacy of this approach using large-scale simulations, and discuss how they can be used to dramatically reduce the impact of attacks against crowdsourced mapping services.