On Pilot Spoofing Attack in Massive MIMO Systems: Detection and Countermeasure

Weiyang Xu*, Chang Yuan, Shengbo Xu, Hien Quoc Ngo, Wei Xiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
262 Downloads (Pure)


Massive MIMO systems are vulnerable to pilot spoofing attacks (PSAs) since the estimated channel state information can be contaminated by the eavesdropping link, thus incurring severe information leakage in downlink transmission. To safeguard legitimate communications, this paper proposes a PSA detection method which relies on pilot manipulation. Specifically, users randomly partition pilot sequences into two parts, where the first part remains unchanged and the second one is multiplied with a diagonal matrix. Although a malicious node may follow the same way to send pilots, this makes it more likely to be detected. According to the principle of the likelihood-ratio test, the proposed detector is designed based on a decision metric that does not include the legitimate channel. This feature differentiates our scheme from existing ones and remarkably improves the detection accuracy. Besides, the possibility of performance enhancement by joint detection is discussed. Furthermore, based on pilot manipulation, a jamming-resistant receiver is designed. The key of this receiver is a new channel estimator that is robust to the PSA. Finally, extensive simulations are carried out to validate our proposed algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1396-1409
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
Early online date09 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received April 27, 2020; revised September 4, 2020; accepted October 20, 2020. Date of publication November 9, 2020; date of current version December 1, 2020. This work was supported in part by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities under Grant 2018CDXYTX0011 and in part by the Key Program of Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing under Grant CSTC2017JCYJBX0047. The associate editor coordinating the review of this manuscript and approving it for publication was Prof. Tobias Oechtering. (Corresponding author: Weiyang Xu.) Weiyang Xu is with the School of Microelectronics and Communication Engineering, Chongqing University, Chongqing 400044, China, and also with the State Key Laboratory of Power Transmission Equipment and System Security and New Technology, Chongqing University, Chongqing 400044, China (e-mail: weiyangxu@cqu.edu.cn).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2005-2012 IEEE.


  • channel estimation
  • Massive MIMO
  • physical layer security
  • pilot spoofing attack
  • secrecy rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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