Watching the Watchers: Practical Video Identification Attack in LTE Networks


Sangwook Bae, Mincheol Son, Dongkwan Kim, CheolJun Park, Jiho Lee, Sooel Son, and Yongdae Kim, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)


A video identification attack is a tangible privacy threat that can reveal videos that victims are watching. In this paper, we present the first study of a video identification attack in Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. We discovered that, by leveraging broadcast radio signals, an unprivileged adversary equipped with a software-defined radio can 1) identify mobile users who are watching target videos of the adversary's interest and then 2) infer the video title that each of these users is watching. Using 46,810 LTE traces of three video streaming services from three cellular operators, we demonstrate that our attack achieves an accuracy of up to 0.985. We emphasize that this high level of accuracy stems from overcoming the unique challenges related to the operational logic of LTE networks and video streaming systems. Finally, we present an end-to-end attack scenario leveraging the presented video identification attack and propose countermeasures that are readily applicable to current LTE networks.

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@inproceedings {277230,
author = {Sangwook Bae and Mincheol Son and Dongkwan Kim and CheolJun Park and Jiho Lee and Sooel Son and Yongdae Kim},
title = {Watching the Watchers: Practical Video Identification Attack in {LTE} Networks},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-31-1},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {1307--1324},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,