Convolution Attack on Frequency Hopping by Full-Duplex Radios

Harshan Jagadeesh, Yih Chun Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we propose a new adversarial attack on frequency-hopping-based wireless communication between two users, namely Alice and Bob. In this attack, the adversary referred to as Eve, instantaneously modifies the transmitted signal by Alice before forwarding it to Bob within the symbol period. We show that this attack forces Bob to incorporate Eve's signal in the decoding process; otherwise, treating it as noise would further degrade the performance akin to jamming. Through this attack, we show that Eve can convert a slow-fading channel between Alice and Bob to a rapid-fading one by modifying every transmitted symbol independently. As a result, neither pilot-Assisted coherent detection techniques nor blind-detection methods are directly applicable as countermeasures. As potential mitigation strategies, we explore the applicability of frequency hopping along with on-off keying (OOK) and binary frequency-shift keying (BFSK) as modulation schemes. In the case of OOK, the attacker attempts to introduce deep fades on the tone carrying the information bit, whereas in the case of BFSK, the attacker pours comparable energy levels on the tones carrying bit-0 and bit-1, thereby degrading the performance. Based on extensive analyses and experimental results, we show that when using OOK, Bob must be equipped with a large number of receive antennas to reliably detect Alice's signal, and when using BFSK, Alice and Bob must agree upon a secret key to randomize the location of the tones carrying the bits, in addition to randomizing the carrier frequency of communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8676089
Pages (from-to)5642-5656
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Jamming
  • cognitive radio
  • convolution attack
  • frequency-hopping
  • wireless security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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