Pilot contamination for active eavesdropping

Xiangyun Zhou, Behrouz Maham, Are Hjørungnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


Existing studies on physical layer security often assume the availability of perfect channel state information (CSI) and overlook the importance of channel training needed for obtaining the CSI. In this letter, we discuss how an active eavesdropper can attack the training phase in wireless communication to improve its eavesdropping performance. We derive a new security attack from the pilot contamination phenomenon, which targets at systems using reverse training to obtain the CSI at the transmitter for precoder design. This attack changes the precoder used by the legitimate transmitter in a controlled manner to strengthen the signal reception at the eavesdropper during data transmission. Furthermore, we discuss an efficient use of the transmission energy of an advanced full-duplex eavesdropper to simultaneously achieve a satisfactory eavesdropping performance whilst degrading the detection performance of the legitimate receiver.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6151778
Pages (from-to)903-907
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Physical layer security
  • active eavesdropper
  • channel estimation
  • pilot contamination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Pilot contamination for active eavesdropping'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this