9-1-1 DDoS: attacks, analysis and mitigation

Mordechai Guri, Yisroel Mirsky, Yuval Elovici

2017 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (EuroS&P), 218-232, 2017

The 911 emergency service belongs to one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors in the United States. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks launched from a mobile phone botnet pose a significant threat to the availability of this vital service. In this paper we show how attackers can exploit the cellular network protocols in order to launch an anonymized DDoS attack on 911. The current FCC regulations require that all emergency calls be immediately routed regardless of the caller’s identifiers (e.g., IMSI and IMEI). A rootkit placed within the baseband firmware of a mobile phone can mask and randomize all cellular identifiers, causing the device to have no genuine identification within the cellular network. Such anonymized phones can issue repeated emergency calls that cannot be blocked by the network or the emergency call centers, technically or legally. We explore the 911 infrastructure and discuss why it is …