Coordinated Sampling to Improve the Efficiency of Wireless Network Monitoring


Udayan Deshpande, Chris McDonald, and David Kotz. Coordinated Sampling to Improve the Efficiency of Wireless Network Monitoring. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Networks (ICON), pages 353–358. IEEE, November 2007. doi:10.1109/ICON.2007.4444112. ©Copyright IEEE.


Wireless networks are deployed in home, university, business, military and hospital environments, and are increasingly used for mission-critical applications like VoIP or financial applications. Monitoring the health of these networks, whether it is for failure, coverage or attacks, is important in terms of security, connectivity, cost, and performance.

Effective monitoring of wireless network traffic, using commodity hardware, is a challenging task due to the limitations of the hardware. IEEE 802.11 networks support multiple channels, and a wireless interface can monitor only a single channel at one time. Thus, capturing all frames passing an interface on all channels is an impossible task, and we need strategies to capture the most representative sample.

When a large geographic area is to be monitored, several monitoring stations must be deployed, and these will typically overlap in their area of coverage. The competing goals of effective wireless monitoring are to capture as many frames as possible, while minimizing the number of those frames that are captured redundantly by more than one monitoring station. Both goals may be addressed with a sampling strategy that directs neighboring monitoring stations to different channels during any period. To be effective, such a strategy requires timely access to the nature of all recent traffic.

We propose a coordinated sampling strategy that meets these goals. Our implemented solution involves a central controller considering traffic characteristics from many monitoring stations to periodically develop specific sampling policies for each station. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our coordinated sampling strategy by comparing it with existing independent strategies. Our coordinated strategy enabled more distinct frames to be captured, providing a solid foundation for focused sampling and intrusion detection.

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Keywords: [security] [wifi]

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