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UBC Theses and Dissertations

wypy : an extensible, online interference detection tool for wireless networks Lotun, Reza M. E. 2008

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wypy : An Extensible, Online Interference Detection Tool for Wireless Networks by Reza M. E. Lotun Hon. B.Sc., The University of Toronto, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF Master of Science in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Computer Science) The University Of British Columbia February, 2008 c© Reza M. E. Lotun 2008 Abstract WiFi networks have become ubiquitous. However, due to the nature of the radio-wave medium, the performance of 802.11 is unpredictable and highly dependent on the environment. This problem is fundamental to 802.11’s decentralized, signal-based airspace arbitration mechanism. When devices have incomplete and inconsistent channel conditions for an overlapping in- terference domain, their signals alone cannot ensure a fair competition for airspace. As a result, competing flows may suffer from unfair bandwidth distribution if the shared airspace is congested. A useful tool to visualize and diagnose problematic wireless networks is the set of devices interfering with each other at a given time. We say two devices a and b interfere when one of two possible situations occur. First, a is able to sense b’s radio signals, though not necessarily decode them, resulting in a unable to send data. Second, a and b aren’t in radio range, but their destination devices are, resulting in packet collisions. We call such a set of mutually interfering devices the interference neighbourhood. We present wypy, an online system which merges trace-files and pro- duces a map of interfering devices contained within the trace. wypy is able to identify pairs of devices exhibiting either hidden or exposed terminal in- terference using a pipeline that consists of trace merging and reconstruction, filtering of simultaneously sending devices, throughput and delay signal cal- culations, and a test for interference correlation. We evaluate wypy using an in-lab testbed set up in known interference scenarios. ii Table of Contents Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii List of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v List of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Dedication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii 1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.1 Radio Signals and Noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1.2 A Whirlwind Tour of 802.11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1.2.1 The PHY Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1.2.2 MAC Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 1.2.3 802.11 b and g Inter-operability . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 1.3 Characterizing Interference in 802.11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 1.3.1 Communication Range vs. Carrier Sense Range . . . 6 1.3.2 Interference Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 1.4 Large-Scale Wireless Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 1.4.1 Seeing Interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.4.2 Congestion and Unfairness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 1.4.3 Shaper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 1.4.4 User-Assisted Fault Diagnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 2 Related Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 2.1 Wireless Interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 2.2 Measuring Interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 2.3 A Unified Link-layer View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 2.3.1 Trace Merging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 iii Table of Contents 2.3.2 Inferring Missing Packets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 2.4 Large-Scale Analyses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 3 The wypy Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 3.1 Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 3.1.1 Input . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 3.1.2 Parsing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 3.1.3 Merging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 3.1.4 Job and State Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 3.1.5 Analyzer Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 3.2 Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 3.3 Analyzers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 4 Detecting Interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 4.0.1 Correlation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 4.1 The Algorithm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 4.2 Experimental Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 4.3 Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 4.4 Determining the threshold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 5 Conclusion and Future Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 iv List of Tables 1.1 Various delays. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 3.1 Pcap record structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 3.2 Types of 802.11 packets and some representative subtypes. . . 27 3.3 A example of how field structure can vary for a few represen- tative 802.11 packets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 v List of Figures 1.1 A single device transmitting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 1.2 Interfering devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 1.3 An enterprise wireless network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.4 Throughput between an interferer and a victim. . . . . . . . . 11 2.1 Two links. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 2.2 Time granularity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 2.3 A monitor network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 3.1 wypy architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 3.2 An overview of merging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 3.3 Removing duplicates in merge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 3.4 Simultaneous senders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 4.1 Our testbed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 4.2 No interference results. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 4.3 Strong Hidden Terminal interference results. . . . . . . . . . . 40 4.4 Exposed Terminal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 4.5 CDF for CC values in no interference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 4.6 CDF for CC values in strong hidden terminal interference. . . 42 4.7 CDF for CC values in strong exposed terminal interference. . 43 vi Acknowledgements I could not have done this alone. Thanks to my supervisor Mike Feeley for stimulating meetings - I was always motivated to get things done after them. I’d also like to thank Buck Krasic for being my second reader, and for offering his ideas and advice at different stages of this work. Buck’s PhD student Mike Blackstock faithfully attended our meetings and provided feedback and encouragement during some important points of this project. DSG Lab in general was a great place to work - in particular I’d like to thank Brad Penoff for providing an external perspective, and also always being open for a beer after a day at work. Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank Kan Cai for being my research partner - being there to bounce ideas off of, pair program and debug with, and to provide the experimental muscle that brought the code to life. vii Dedication For Kavitha and Mariam. viii Chapter 1 Introduction The future is wireless. The tethers that tie information devices to specific locations are slowly being severed. Wires connecting our peripherals such as mouse and keyboard are incrementally being replaced by wireless intercon- nects, as exemplified by Bluetooth. In particular, wireless LAN is clearly the foremost success in this trend. Broadband internet connections using the 802.11 family have exploded on the market to become the de facto home, of- fice and school wireless networking technology of choice. The 802.11 suite of physical layers, given the various designations of a, b, g, n, have been dom- inant for a number of years, and likely will stay dominant for the forseeable future. There are two common deployments of 802.11. The first, which we’ll call hotspot deployment, is typical of internet cafes, or even home deployments. This usually consists of single inexpensive wireless routers, or access points (AP), arrayed haphazardly in relation to each other. Each household, or small business, runs their own access point, oblivious to their neighbours and their environment, each with independent network identities and authenti- cation schemes. Another, probably more apt, term for such deployments is ad-hoc. The other common deployment of 802.11 is exemplified by large campus or business networks. Usually a large geographic space has been surveyed for optimal placement of a homogeneous set of centrally administered APs. Such networks present a single unified network identity and authentication scheme to its users, and are operated as extensions of an existing wired network backbone. These networks are fast becoming the norm. The fundamental issue with any wireless technology concerns the net- work medium - radio waves. A new set of distinct challenges emerge when deploying a number of devices sharing airspace, most commonly manifesting in the phenomenon of wireless interference. The situation is undoubtedly inevitable - a huge set of devices competing with each other to broadcast over the airspace. Every device within range can “hear” the other. Even still further devices can have their own transmissions distorted by local trans- missions in seemingly arbitrary ways (not at all “arbitrary” per se, but so 1 Chapter 1. Introduction difficult to model accurately, that it might as well be). Thus wireless in- terference has the potential to lead to poor performance, as viewed by the user. The 802.11 medium access control (MAC) protocol handles only the very basic problems that wireless interference raises, as we’ll show. In this work, we’ll tackle the problem of detecting wireless interference in a centrally administered wireless network. Ad-hoc deployments raise their own set of problems, however many of the detection ideas presented in this thesis can be translated to those deployment situations as well. In particular, we’ll assume that given a centrally administered wireless network deployment, that we can either augment APs or deploy an overlay network of sensor nodes, whose job it is to listen to live traffic. We’ll discuss a variation of this theme - where clients participate in the “listening” process. We’ll also suggest various ways of managing wireless interference and its by-product, unfairness. 1.1 Radio Signals and Noise Communication over a radio medium requires distinguishing a signal over background noise. The quality of a signal is usually measured using the power ratio of the signal and background nosie, which is termed the signal to noise ratio (SNR). One recourse to compensate for a high noise floor is to raise the signal power, however due to 802.11 operating on the unlicensed ISM band, there is are strict regulations on how much power can be pumped into a signal. Thus, to increase capacity on a link we have two options [14]. One option is to increase the amount of spectrum to a device - however, this is unlikely as spectrum allocation is tightly controlled by government. The other option (and the one employed by successive 802.11 physical layers), is to modify the encoding on the link so more data per unit time is transmitted. Employing more dense coding has the downside that larger SNR values are needed - since receivers have to disambiguate more subtle differences in the signals - and thus overall conspire to reduce the range of communication. To illustrate the challenges, we can consider characterizing bounds on data capacity for a physical channel, and see how SNR varies as we ap- proach these bounds. The capacity of a communication channel is called the Shannon limit and as shown by the Shannon-Hartley theorem, C ≤Wlog2 ( 1 + S N ) (1.1) where C is the maximum capacity in bits per second, W is the bandwidth of the channel measured in Hz, and S N is the SNR. By inspection we can 2 Chapter 1. Introduction see that to increase the upper bound on C linearly for W in a fixed range would necessarily impose an exponential increase on the SNR (as we’d have to differentiate between a large number of signal levels). If we solve for SNR we get, S N ≥ 2 C W − 1 (1.2) which gives us the minimum theoretical SNR to achieve data rate C, and illustrates the exponential nature of SNR for fixed ranges of W . It should be noted however that these are theoretical limits, and in practice the real world is far more unforgiving and messy. In free space, radio signals decay with distance, partially due to the inverse-square decay of electro-magnetic radiation (as it spreads out in a growing sphere around the transmitter), and partially because of modulation (the encoding used on the signal). This phenomenon is called path loss. Higher modulation signals will suffer quicker signal decay, since they require higher SNRs. Thus, the general rule of thumb is that as the sending rate increases, the communication range decreases. Indoors, the situation is far more complicated. In addition to straight line path loss, waves can bounce of obstacles and end up destructively inter- fering with each other in a phenomenon called multipath fading. Multipath fading is a special case of the general inter-symbol interference (ISI) [14], which describes the different sorts of delay a signal can incur because of the different paths it can take, and the resultant echoes that conspire to garble a signal. 1.2 A Whirlwind Tour of 802.11 In relation to the OSI stack, 802.11 has both link- (MAC) and physical-layer (PHY) components. 1.2.1 The PHY Layer The 802.11 physical layers are given letter designations, of which the most popular are b, which supports data rates up to 11Mbps, and g, which extends these rates to 54 Mbps. The details of the various physical layer variants (a, b, g, n), aren’t crucial to the presentation of this work, though a few basic notions are necessary to fully appreciate the interference problem. Fundamentally, every device that participates in an 802.11 network is a transceiver - capable of both transmission, and reception of radio waves. 802.11 devices operate on the license-free industrial, scientific, and medical 3 Chapter 1. Introduction (ISM) S-Band of 2.4-2.4835 GHz[14], which is shared by other devices such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, and Bluetooth interconnects. The ISM band which 802.11 b and g operate on, is divided into 13 channels each of width 22 MHz but spaced only 5 MHz apart, with channel 1 centered on 2412 MHz and 13 on 2472 (to which Japan adds a 14th channel 12 MHz above channel 13)[1]. However, because of constraints of how much power can be transmitted on each channel, only channels 1, 6, and 11 (in the Americas) are usable, and there may even be interference between channels [8]. When a device wants to transmit a frame, the medium is first tested to see if it is busy using using a combination of “physical” and “virtual” (MAC layer) carrier sensing. Physical carrier sensing is carried about through a procedure called Clear Channel Assessment (CCA). The CCA module can work in 3 modes [14], where the medium can be declared to be busy if either: 1. It detects any signal energy above a certain threshold, called the En- ergy Detect (ED) threshold. The ED threshold depends on transmit power. 2. Any valid 802.11-modulated signal is detected (this does not mean the signal can be necessarily decoded). 3. A combination of mode 1 and 2. Normally mode 2 is used [15], though in 802.11g Mode 3 is used, where the ED is set to a specific value 1. Reception at the physical layer can be demonstrated by the Physi- cal Layer Convergence Protocol (PLCP) header which encapsulates MAC frames (and consequently are only seen by the wireless driver). The PLCP is divided into two parts: 1. Preamble (144 bits) A specific bit pattern alerts the receiving cir- cuitry of an incoming frame, and is always transmitted at 1 Mbps. 2. PLCP Header (48 bits) Identifies incoming packet length, the trans- mission rate, as well as a 16-bit CRC over the header. This can be transmitted at 1 or 2 Mbps for 802.11b or 6 Mbps for 802.11g [9]. If the PLCP header fails the CRC check, we say a physical error has occured. 1In 802.11g the ED is -76 dBm. Also, a physical layer “virtual” carrier sense is employed for interoperability with other vendors and physical layers. 4 Chapter 1. Introduction 1.2.2 MAC Layer The protocol underlying the MAC is the Distributed Coordination Function (DCF) protocol. The algorithm used by DCF is a variant of the Ethernet MAC algorithm, Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance (CSMA/CA). Basically stated, when a device wants to transmit a frame it runs physical carrier sensing via CCA. If it can decode the signal us- ing the medium, the device enacts “virtual carrier sensing”. Most 802.11 frames carry a duration field which tells all listening frames how long it is reserving the medium for. All devices that can decode their signal will set a counter called the Network Allocation Vector (NAV), to count down for that duration. Once the NAV counts down, the station waits for a period of time known as the Distributed Interframe Spacing (DIFS). After this time has ended, a period called the backoff window (BO) begins. The BO window is divided into slot times, where each slot interval is medium dependent (10 µs for b). If the medium is busy, a device will enter random back off, exponentially increasing the number of slots in the BO window until it reaches a maximum of 1023 slots, at which point it remains constant for seven retransmission attempts, at which point the packet is dropped. There are three types frames in 802.11 - DATA, CONTROL, and MAN- AGEMENT frames. Beacon messages, sent by APs and probe requests sent by clients in search of APs are examples of MANAGEMENT packets. When a device sends a unicast DATA frame, the receiver has to acknowledge im- mediately with an ACK packet, an example of a CONTROL packet. If an ACK is not received, the frame is retransmitted. Each DATA frame con- tains a Frame Check Sequence (FCS) field which is a 32 bit CRC over the whole frame - when frames fail the FCS, a situation we call a CRC error, those DATA frames aren’t ACKed and the sender is expected to retransmit them. Frames from the same transmitter include as 12-bit monotonically increasing (0 - 4095) sequence number. Delay Time (µs) DIFS 50 SIFS 10 Table 1.1: Various delays. The MAC contains some recourse to deal with certain hidden terminal effects (described below), namely the Request-to-Send (RTS), Clear-to-send 5 Chapter 1. Introduction (CTS) messages, which can optionally be employed. When a sender wants to send a DATA frame, the sender can first sends an RTS frame with the length of time it wants to reserve the medium for, and the receiver im- mediately (using the Short Interframe Spacing (SIFS) instead of the DFS) responds with a CTS indicating their vicinity is clear for reception. Any terminals in communication range of either party will decode the duration time and withhold transmissions for that duration. In practice though RT- S/CTS are rarely used because of the overhead, and in some cases aren’t even implemented in wireless cards [11]. 1.2.3 802.11 b and g Inter-operability A wide number of legacy 802.11 b devices exist still. Both b and g use incompatible modulations - that is, during the CCA, a b device will be unable the modulation of a g signal, and will incorrectly sense the medium as idle. It is up to the access point to determine if it has any b clients. If so, the AP enables “802.11g protection mode” where each g frame is preceded by a lower-rate b-modulation compatible “CTS-to-self” frame that reserves the channel for the time needed to transmit and ACK a DATA frame. 1.3 Characterizing Interference in 802.11 1.3.1 Communication Range vs. Carrier Sense Range We can view a single device in space to have two boundaries around it. The basic boundary is its communication range, the range at which devices within it can hear and decode its communications. Beyond that, a more fuzzy and irregularly shaped region can be defined - the carrier sense (CS) range. Other devices within this range cannot decode a signal, but can sense it. The sending device’s signal has decayed so much at this point that variations within it cannot be discerned, or multipath effects begin to dominate. The end result is that any devices within this region will sense the medium as busy and enter the random backoff stage. It should be noted that both communication and CS range can be asymmetrical - it’s not necessarily the case that a device B within A’s communication range will be able to have it’s communication decodable by A. The CS region is dynamic and irregular due to the presence of obstacles such as walls, furniture, and people. 6 Chapter 1. Introduction communication range carrier sense Figure 1.1: Communication vs. Carrier Sense 1.3.2 Interference Range Consider a set of devices A, B and C arranged in space. Let A be sending to B (that is, A is in communication range of B). Let C be sending to some recipient (it is unimportant exactly where this recipient is situated), but let C be out of CS range of A (thus, A and C can be sending packets simul- taneously). There is a possibility that, depending on where C is situated, its packets may corrupt (that is, collide), with packets at B. We define the receiving interference range as the set of all positions for C (the interferer) where A’s (the victim) packets to B get corrupted by C’s transmissions. Another name for those devices C are hidden terminals. So far we’ve defined two very important topology scenarios wireless de- vices can be deployed in. In the CS range, devices can hear each other, and will back off when one is sending. To a device in the CS range of an- other device, the medium is noisy - this noise cannot be differentiated from normal background noise. If a sending devices is extremely busy (as is the case during times of network congestion), then it can certainly be the case that certain devices within CS range of others may rarely get the chance to send anything at all, leading to an unfair distribution of network band- width. Likewise, for receiving interference (or “hidden terminal scenarios”), corrupted packets will necessarily lead to the retransmission of those packets - thus airtime given to the victim device has been wasted, and the medium resource has been used inefficiently (in addition to the denial of service the interferer has caused to the victim). We thus term the interference range to 7 Chapter 1. Introduction X A B C CS range A CS range C Figure 1.2: Possible manifestations of interference. refer both to the CS range and receiving interference range. We see that in both cases one device is always interfering with the operation of the other, causing denial of service either by not letting the victim send, or corrupting the victim’s packets in flight. 1. DATA-DATA Collision: C’s transmission may generate enough noise at B to interfere with A’s transmission, that is both data packets collide. 2. DATA-ACK Collision: If node C receives a DATA packet from a sender, its corresponding ACK may interfere with a Data packet at A 3. ACK-ACK Collision: C’s ACK may interfere with the reception of A’s ACK to B. 1.4 Large-Scale Wireless Networks Given an understanding of how 802.11 operates, and the various types of interfering situations devices can be in, we turn now to a brief study of “en- terprise” (large-scale campus or business, wide-area centrally administered) wireless networks and some of the challenges they pose. In a simplified sense, a wide-are wireless LAN (WLAN) can be viewed as an extension of an existing wired backbone network, and serves as a “last-hop” for users of that network. 8 Chapter 1. Introduction access point client backbone router to Internet Figure 1.3: This is a typical deployment of an enterprise wireless network. We have a natural choke-point of the router. The first observation we should make is that during some time interval the number of packets on the wired side is much less than the number of packets on during the same amount of time on the wireless side. This is because, in addition to the IP packets being pumped into the wireless airspace, there exist a number of “background noise” MANAGEMENT and CONTROL packets, in addition to retransmitted DATA packets, that occur. That is, a single TCP packet on the wired side my correspond to many packets on the wireless side, be- cause of possible retransmissions and wireless ACKS, as is especially the case during periods of high network usage. The second observation is that of the bandwidth disparity, in the backbone (which can typically be in the Gigabit Ethernet range or greater), and that of the wireless link (being no more thant 54 Mbps). 1.4.1 Seeing Interference As we will show, wireless interference and congestion are the culprits of unfairness. In general, knowledge of interfering devices is useful, since, if we factor out the vagaries of the environment, it is the main cause of any sort of performance degradation in a wireless network. So, the question is, can we “see” or detect its impact? A number of challenges exist on this front: 1. How do we best come up with a metric to judge the impact of inter- 9 Chapter 1. Introduction ference? In the hidden terminal case (receiving interference), we have an interfering device garbling the reception of packets at another de- vice. However, in the exposed terminal (CS range) interference case, we have the victim silenced whenever the interferer is sending. 2. How do we differentiate interference-induced traffic from normal changes in device behaviour. For example, is the sudden silencing of through- put for a device because of a hidden terminal, or because a user closed their laptop and stopped using the network? 3. If we are to base our criteria of judging interference on network traffic, how do we best get at the data? As mentioned previously and as we will soon shown, fully describing wireless side of the network is not trivial. Because of the changing conditions of the environment and the limited locality of wireless signals, to fully “see” wireless activity in a large airspace would require a whole other network of listening sensors to record and aggregate the information they see in the airspace. Our approach to these problems is to ensure we have as complete a packet-trace as possible of the airspace. We search for interfering devices by detecting correlated patterns in devices throughput and delay signature. Our definition of “signature” in this context are the representation of throughput and delay as 1-D signals in time. Operating over small-enough timescales (where “small-enough” will be quantified below), we assume we can extract meaningful correlations lasting for the life of actual network communica- tions, and thus reduce false-positive rates of interference instead of natural changes in the network flows themselves. We hold off on a more detailed presentation of our approach until later, however, and instead consider some applications of knowledge of interfering devices. Given a the set of mutually interfering devices, which we call the interference domains (ID) how can we use them? 1.4.2 Congestion and Unfairness In general, congestion can be defined as the situation where the offered load on a link (equivalently, channel) approaches the capacity of a link [20]. In hidden-terminal scenarios, when the aggregate traffic load exceeds the 802.11 capacity and dominating MAC-level flows request more bandwidth than their fair share, network utilization is so high that there is not enough room in the airspace for losing flows to recover from packet loss using TCP or MAC-layer retransmissions. Similarly, in exposed-terminal scenarios, the 10 Chapter 1. Introduction exposed (victim) terminal is not given fair airspace access to send its packets. Frequent packet losses and long delays cause the TCP sender in a losing flow to push fewer packets into the network, at which point the flow is doomed to lose its fair network share to others [5]. Wireless traffic has also grown faster than the substantial increases in bandwidth. Studies [17] have shown that wireless users use bandwidth- greedy applications just as they would on wired connections. As the capacity of the network backbone that connects APs to the Internet increases to Gigabit ethernet, congestion is even more likely to occur on the last-hop wireless links. Recent collected traces have shown that, even in well planned wireless networks such as hotels [19] and university buildings [8, 9], wireless users often suffer from performance degradation caused by packet collisions. As the airspace congestion problems increase, unfairness is more likely to happen [5]. 0 60 120 1800 5 10 15 20 25 TIme (S) Th ro ug hp ut  (M bp s)   Winning flow Losing flow Agg. Throughput Start the winning flow Start the Shaper Figure 1.4: Throughput between an interferer and a victim. 1.4.3 Shaper In [5] we presented a system which uses the knowledge of interference do- mains to tackle MAC-layer congestion and tackle unfairness. Shaper works by throttling traffic above the 802.11 MAC layer, at an upstream router. In [5] we argue that as long as fewer packets are pushed into the airspace than 802.11’s capacity, standard TCP and fair queuing will together allow 802.11 to achieve fairness. 11 Chapter 1. Introduction This cross-layer approach is effective because throttling the aggregated throughput below the network capacity slows winning flows and thus grants losing flows the extra airspace they need to deliver packets and recover from packet loss. Successfully delivered packets in turn open up the TCP sending window for a losing flow. Consequently, a losing flow is now able to push more packets to its receiver. Packets from all flows are queued at the up- stream router and are treated equally by the fair queue management mech- anism. This feed-back loop continues until a max-min fairness is achieved between flows. Shaper operates on the set of mutually interfering APs. This is slightly different from the ID map since we cascade interfering relationships between two devices a and b one level up to interference relationships between their access points APa and APb. Given these interference domains, Shaper throt- tles throughput on each independently in an attempt to alleviate congestion and improve fairness for all the connected devices within each domain. Interfering Access Points Is the number of such interfering subsets small enough to be tried exhaus- tively? Suppose the area in question has n APs and suppose the area covered is large enough that we can reliably pre-partion the set of access points into j subsets. Perhaps these j subsets can be defined so that we care only about sets of access points that are, say, r meters within each other, or within 3 wireless hops of each other. So we have j subsets of n, where we can safely assume (that since we’re dealing with a large enough area) j ≪ n. Then we can have 2j such assignments of accesspoints for each time-step. For example, if n = 1700 (as is the case on the UBC campus), then if j is 10, that means we’d have 1024 sets of accesspoints we could possibly assign at some time t. Assuming a time granularity of 1 second, the space of possible mappings we’d have to search for to find the ”right” one would be 86400 seconds/day to one possible subset of j access points, or 102486400 . So, given this extremely detailed clustering function, we have an enormous space of possible clustering functions, namely on the order of ∼ 10259200. Even if we assume more reasonable requirements, if it turns out j = 5 and we’re only looking for mappings on a granularity of 1 minute, we’d have 321440 ∼ 101500 possible mappings! The key idea is that the set of possible clusterings is large enough to motivate various ways of approaching this problem. 12 Chapter 1. Introduction 1.4.4 User-Assisted Fault Diagnosis Another application of knowledge of interference domains can be user-initiated fault diagnosis. So far we have assumed that the interference domain map is constantly being recalculated at every time step, to be used in some some central manner to take certain actions. Instead consider the scenario where interference detection is offered as an on-demand service. Each AP, either augmented or with corresponding sensor node, can be taking constant measurements of the environment, but stored in some AP log repository. A user suffering from poor performance can then initiate a “help request” for diagnosis. A short period of logging can take place by the user’s device, as part of some fault diagnosis protocol. The resultant trace can then be merged with the network side logs to gain a better picture of the user’s local environment. The calculation of interference domains would be an integral part of this fault diagnoser. The information could be distilled into a variety of suggestions: “your local area is suffering from interference, please move”, or “nothing wrong, check your hardware”, are some Spartan ideas on the output of such a service, though more useful suggestions can undoubtedly be made. We now turn to examining some related work in this problem space to get a better feel of the challenges, and some potential solutions, to detecting interference from network data in an enterprise network. 13 Chapter 2 Related Work In much of the following reviewed work, a notion of wireless link is often used roughly to mean an existing communication channel between devices. Many use the notion of ETX to quantify the existence of link. ETX is presented in [12] as a path metric for multi-hop wireless networks which explicitly takes measured forward and reversed delivery ratios into account. The ETX of a link is the predicted number of data transmissions required to send a packet over the link, including retransmissions. If we consider a link defined by a sender and receiver A and B, we define the forward delivery ratio df as the measured probability that a data packet successfully arrives at r, and the reverse delivery ratio dr as the probability that the ACK has been successfully received. We can view the the successful transmission of a packet over a link as the outcome of a weighted coin flip. Given that the expected probability that a transmission is dfdr, and that we are describing a Bernoulli process, ETX = 1 dfdr (2.1) An often-used definition for a wireless link, then, is having the ETX of a communication channel below some threshold. 2.1 Wireless Interference RF Interference In [15] the impact of external radio-frequency interference on 802.11 net- works is studied. A range of devices that share the 2.4 Ghz band are noted: • 2.4 GHz cordless phones • Bluetooth headsets • Zigbee (IEEE 802.15.4) embedded devices • 2.4 GHz RFID tags 14 Chapter 2. Related Work • “wireless USB” devices • microwave ovens The authors [15] set up an experiment consisting of an AP and client laptop using a mix of various commodity wireless NICs, and a selfish/malicious interferer. Various devices at different powers and ranges were tried as an interferer; a wireless NIC, a 2.4 GHz jammer, a Zigbee and a cordless phone. The authors measured interference effects at various parts of processing a packet at the PHY layer, on b, g and n links. They found that weak, narrow- band interferers can effectively disrupt 802.11 links, and persist even with tuning of CCA detection thresholds, sending rate and packet size. They suggest rapid channel hopping as a way to withstand RF interference. Multi-Way Interference In the interference works considered so far, a single interferer exists, and the attempted simultaneous transmissions of a (victim, interferer) pair is used as the basis of defining and quantifying the extent of interference. In [13], higher order interference effects were considered - that is, instead of the interferer bing a single device, it instead now can be a set of simultaneously sending devices. However, they found that, though when it occurs it causes significant throughput degradation, multi-way interference is rare. Theoretical Models of Interference The work of [18] extended [16] to computing of throughput in multi-hop wireless networks given node locations and ranges, as well as traffic routing information is considered. The authors use a conflict graph to model the effects of wireless interference. The vertices in the conflict graph correspond to active links in the network, and weighted edges between vertices corre- spond to the degree of noise infringement that active links inflict on each other. The authors use this graph as constraints on a linear program to solve a flow optimization problem. The Case Against Simulation Heavy-duty models such as those listed above are NP-hard to compute in the general case, and at best give an upper and lower bound on throughput, assuming accurate inputs and existing knowledge of interference. Simple rules of thumb for estimating interference, and RF properties in general have 15 Chapter 2. Related Work been variously proposed in used in the literature over the years. In [22], the authors evaluate a number of models and axioms used by simulators such as: • Signal range and interference as a function of cartesian X-Y distance • Radio transmission area/volume is circular/spherical • All radios have equal range • Symmetry of radio links - that is if A can send to B then B must be able to send to A. • The binary existence of radio links - that is, the non-existence of signal quality. • Signal strength is some function of distance They find that such simple axioms are too simple to model real wireless networks, and necessitate the use of real testbeds for evaluation of models. 2.2 Measuring Interference Using Throughput Given a static multihop wireless network [27] addresses the problem of esti- mating link interference. Specifically [27] defines interference as the aggre- gate throughput drop over a set of links, when each link the set is active when all others are silent, versus when all are active simultaneously. The following challenges for determining such a measure are given: 1. Physical models of radio signal propagation. As mentioned above, given the various environment and hardware specific factors is ex- tremely difficult. 2. Brute force testing of all lists are impractical, since given n nodes there are O(n2) links and simple pair-wise comparison of links amounts to O(n4) tests. 3. Interference estimation is not a one time task as interference patterns can change with the environment. Thus, any interference estimation tests must be performed periodically. 16 Chapter 2. Related Work In an 802.11 network, with parameters such as transmit power and data rate held fixed, a scheme to measure interference between pairs of wireless links is proposed. A wireless link LAB from node A to B is defined using ETX. Consider a pair of links LAB and LCD. For a fixed packet size, let UAB be the unicast throughput of link LAB when no other links are active, and likewise UCD for LCD. Let U AB,CD AB be the unicast throughput of LAB when LAB and LCD are active simultaneously. A B C D Figure 2.1: We seek to estimate the interference caused between two links. The Link Interference Ratio (LIR) is defined as the aggregate through- put of the links when they are active simultaneously, to their aggregate throughput when they are active individually. LIRAB,CD = U AB,CD AB + U AB,CD CD UAB + UCD (2.2) Some properties of LIR: 1. LIR ∈ [0, 1] 2. LIR = 1 implies no interference. 3. LIR < 1 implies interference. 4. LIR = 0.5 implies the aggregate of the links is halved when they are active simultaneously. This is a good indication that two nodes are within carrier sense of each other, and are backing off during each others transmission. 17 Chapter 2. Related Work A method is proposed to reduce the complexity of manually estimating interference between pairs of links, using broadcast messages. Denote the send rate of a broadcasting node A as SA. The delivery rate of A’s broadcast at some node B will be denoted by RAB . All pairs of nodes A,C are then set to broadcast simultaneously, their send rates denoted by SACA and S AC C , with all nodes B denoting their receive rates as RACAB. The Broadcast Interference Ratio (BIR) is analogous to the LIR but with defined with respect to broadcast messages instead: BIRAB,CD = RACAB + U AC CD RAB +RCD (2.3) Building off [27], [25] proposes the idea of an interference map to model interference in a wireless network. The interference map of n nodes on the same channel is a tuple (D,CS,RI), where: • D (Channel Quality) are the O(n2) delivery ratios (percent capacity of a channel), from node i to node k without any interference. To collect these measurements each node broadcasts all all the other nodes record, for O(n) measurements. • CS (Carrier Sense) are the fractions of maximum capacity i can send when j is sending at maximum capacity. A value of csij = 1 implies i and j aren’t in CS range. If two nodes i and j sense each other and share the medium completely csij = csji = 0.5. An example of an exposed sender could be csij = 1 and csji = 0.5. • RI (Receiving Interference) are the delivery ratios from i to k in the case of an interferer j. This is equivalent to the conflict graph [18] de- scribed earlier. To collect these measurements, nodes i and j broadcast simultaneously and all other nodes k record, for O(n2) measurements. The effects of multiple interferers were shown in 802.11a networks to be independent in that their effects could be measured independently in isola- tion of one another to predict their cumulative effect on a link. The major assumptions made in [27] and [25] are constant bit rate traffic, complete con- trol over all nodes in the network, and the ability to effectively shut down the network to initiate measurement phases. Combining Measurements with RF Models Noting that, though measurements using real hardware in real environ- ments are more accurate, they’re not necessarily reproduceable, are time- 18 Chapter 2. Related Work consuming, and not always amenable to generalization, [28] combining mea- surements and a model of RF profile of the environment. The authors use measurements of received signal strength indicators (RSSI) values to seed a signal to interference-plus-noise ration (SINR) RF model, which estimates packet delivery probability as a function of the RF interference. The 802.11 standard defines the RSSI value as an internal 1 byte value (thus, being able to differentiate between 256 signal levels) that measures the RF energy during packet reception as seen by a receiver NIC [3]. The drawbacks are that the definition of such an interal RSSI value is optional, and if implemented each vendor can implement it in a different manner. Specifically, the measurements they need for n nodes are the O(n2) RSSI values and pairwise packet delivery counts − as each nodes broadcasts and all others record. Using two variants of their RSSI-seeded SINR model, a receiver model for packet reception in the presence of an interferer, and a carrier-sense model for modelling deferrals to another sender. Evaluation on 802.11 a and b testbeds showed their model to hold predictive power for packet reception probabilities. Both [21, 35] extend [28]to an arbitrary number of interferers using a model of the MAC as discrete state Markov chain, driven by deferral and reception PHY models, again seeded by O(n) measurements. 2.3 A Unified Link-layer View There are a number of challenges to obtaining a complete link-layer view of the wireless side of the network [9, 23, 30, 34]. The general problem is, given a number of devices communicating in some geographic area, how do we capture a complete link-layer view of the airspace. The requirements tac- itly imply some sort of synchronized time scale amongst a set of monitoring devices. Because of the RF medium, signal propagation cannot be predicted so to guarantee near total coverage of every sent packet the problem of where to place monitor nodes also exists. Also, how can we be sure we’ve seen every packet? The wireless side injects its own “background noise” of MANAGE- MENT and CONTROL packets, the most important being retransmitted DATA packets, and means to quantify coverage are also important. 2.3.1 Trace Merging Assuming n monitors exist in a wireless network, each in promiscuous mode with their own trace file and their own clock, [23, 30, 34] tackle the problem in an offline mannner, while [9] presents a method to do it online. The 19 Chapter 2. Related Work process of merging involves a bootstrap synchronization phase, where given no knowledge of the monitors clocks, their initial offset need be obtained via the existence of reference packets seen by both monitors. A further complication that 802.11 operates on µs granularity, so the merge process is particularly sensitive to clock drift. A means of continuous resynchronization is required. In [34] linear re- gression is performed on reference packets on a pair of trace files over the whole time-frame, and clock drift is then inferred as a linear phenomenon. Noting that clock skew manifests itself in a non-linear fashion, [23] divide the merge files into sections, and do linear regression for each section, thus arriving at a piece-wise linear approximation to the unknown non-linear clock skew. Merging over a large set of trace files in real-time, [9] employs a similar method, but augments it with direct modelling of clock skew for each monitor. Time Granularity Given two reference frames r1 and r2 from two sniffers, we define the time synchronization error, as the average timestamp difference between r1 and r2 (to an unknown “global clock”). To place an upper bound on this error requires us to quantify the minimum possible time difference between two valid 802.11 frames. The minimum delay is dmin = prd + SIFS + pktmin = 192µs + 10µs+ 10µs = 212µs (2.4) Where prd is the time to delay to transmit the preamble, SIFS is the short interframe spacing, and pktmin is the time it takes to transmit the smallest possible packet (a 14 byte ACK). So, given a 212µs delay, we see that the upper bound on the time synchronization error is dmin 2 or 106µs. packet a packet b SIFSt PLCPt ACKt 10µs10µs 192µs Figure 2.2: The largest possible time synchronization we can tolerate, as recorded in a packet trace. 20 Chapter 2. Related Work Unique Packets A remarkable number of 802.11 packets are impossible to disambiguate [9, 23]. For example, a retransmitted packet heard by multiple monitors that is continually rebroadcast will look identical during the merge process, and thus correct time synchronization of the traces are the only way to reliably disambiguate them [23]. During the bootstrap synchronization process, where initial clock skew is determined without any prior knowledge, a method of determining proper unique packets is essential. Starting with an upper bound of the possible clock variation amongst the clocks on the different trace files, an initial set of common packets need to be found amongst a set of highly probably unique packets. Certainty cannot be guaranteed for the following reasons: 1. The sequence numbers of non-retransmitted packets goes from 0 to 4095, after which it is reset. If the upper bound on the clock skew is high, we may scan forward too far in time in a trace file and mistakenly mark the next phase of sequence numbering as an “identical packet” 2. Beacon packets are one type of reference packets used in the literature [34] because of their unique 64 bit timestamp files counting up from an epoch defined as when the access points they belong to are first turned on. However, in [23] it was shown that a high number of access points were power cycled and thus resetting their timestamp values. 2.3.2 Inferring Missing Packets Even given a reasonable coverage of monitors and an accurate merge, it is still very likely that packets could be missing from the trace file. However, given that a packet trace is essentially a record of transactions or negoti- ations, missing packets can be inferred within certain sets of packets. For example, a DATA is always followed by an ACK in a successful transmission, or other retransmissions, an RTS is followed by a CTS, etc. In addition to these high-level protocol interactions, sequence numbers on DATA packets can tell us directly which packets are most likely missing (given that the trace is off sufficient granularity to capture at least a few numbered pack- ets within a 0-4095 range). To implement link-layer protocol inference, [9] uses a finite state machine of packet interactions to identify transmission attempts and exchanges to infer missing packets, supplementing it with in- formation at the transport layer using TCP sequence numbers and ACKS − though in general transport level information may not be available due to 21 Chapter 2. Related Work the use of encryption. In [23] the inference problem is treated as a language recognition task. Packet exchanges are treated as sentences with certain structure (defined by the protocol). The trace then can be viewed as inter- leaved partial sentences in the language. Treating the language as regular allows the authors to leverage regular expressions and finite state machines, and the authors use these FSM to generate missing segments of some sen- tences. Analyzing the effectiveness of their inference component versus the use of additional monitors, they find that inference and additional coverage are complimentary − good coverage of monitors is needed, but there are diminishing returns after covering a dense set, and inference is effective at recovering missed packets. 2.4 Large-Scale Analyses Distributed Fault Diagnosis In [7], a distributed fault-diagnosis system called WifiProfiler is presented. The system comprised an “information plane” orthogonal to the actual 802.11 network devices were connected. Each device runs a sensor pro- gram that scans the host machine to detect any problems − these problems can run the gamut from detecting network connectivity problems to mis- configuration issues. The sensors issue a help request when a problem is detected, and a P2P ad-hoc help network is formed with its peers to pool and aggregate information to perform automated diagnosis. In [2, 6] a system called DAIR is presented which leveraged the station- ary PCs in an office building by equipping them with wireless USB dongles. These dongles perform light-weight RF measurements of the airspace, as well as other measurements of the wired side. The measurements are for- warded to a central inference engine elsewhere on the network for further computation, and was used to detect rogue APs and perform localization of mobile clients. In [31] a system for diagnosing and and differentiating physical-layer anomalies using wirelss sniffers is presented. Four PHY layer anomalies are detected: i) noise levels ii) hidden terminals iii) capture effects and iv) long-term signal strength fluctuations. The capture effect refers to the phenomenon where, given two incoming simultaneous wireless signals, a receiver locks on and captures the stronger of the two signals. This can be a problem if because of distance, RF fluctuation, or vary signal strength, a node not associated with a receiver may have its transmission stomp out another who is genuinely associated with that receiver. Each client logs 22 Chapter 2. Related Work air traffic, and the data is sent to a central server for analysis, though each independent view is not merged together to get a global view of the airspace. Simultaneous transmissions within an AP domain is used as the basis to detect and differentiate hidden terminals and the capture effect, and long term signal strength changes between pairs of APs are compared using a measure of linear correlation (Pearson’s correlation score). Performance Measures The Jigsaw [8, 9] system at UCSD is the only large-scale monitoring and merge system we are aware of. The goal of the project is to systematically capture all link-layer packets over a large area (the computer science build- ing) using a large number of sniffers (192) simultaneously monitoring three channels. An online merge phase followed by link-layer reconstruction is performed, and the resultant trace [10] are stored offline for further anal- yses. Given the merge trace file, the Jigsaw authors performed a number of interesting analyses. Over the course of the day 47% of recorded frames were found to be physical (PLCP 16-bit CRC failures) or CRC errors (MAC frame 32-bit CRC failures). Broadcast traffic was found to consume 10% of the airtime, since broadcast packets are sent out at the lowest rate and thus make inefficient use fo the airtime. monitor node data packet potential retransmissions pcap trace Figure 2.3: An overlaid monitor network over a wireless domain 23 Chapter 2. Related Work The authors of [9] also attempts to quantify how often receiving inter- ference (hidden terminals) occur. Given a sender s and a receiver r. Let: • n be the number of transmissions from s to r • n0 be the number of transmissions from s to r where no simultaneous node is sending • nl0 be the n0 transmissions that are lost. By lost we mean that no corresponding ACK was observed. • nx be the number of transmissions from s to r with a simultaneous transmission • nlx be the number of nx transmissions that are lost Assuming that the trace completely sees all packets, notice that the fraction (or probability) of T = n l x nx gives the percentage packets that may have been lost to hidden terminal effects (or some unknown environmental cause). Also notice B = nl 0 n0 gives a rough “background loss probability” caused by the environment. However, we can say that the probability of loss due to receiving interference only is T−B 1−B . These are rough values that are only asymptotically correct, so the authors chose 536 (s, r) pairs (82% of all pairs in the trace) that exchanged at least 100 packets, they found that 88% of the pairs experience lost packets due to hidden terminal effects. To complement the hidden terminal interference loss show above, [23, 24] presents a method of determining the number of contenders of the medium, using trace data. Contention time is defined as the time when a device’s MAC layer receives a packet to to the time of successful transmission (if it’s a DATA packet, “successful” means the corresponding ACK is also received). The scan a trace in reverse chronological order and maintain a set of con- tender stations along with their corresponding idle-wait-time − the amount of idle time they must have waited to acquire the channel before their last observed transmission. For example, the time between a device’s DATA and DATA-retry packets give an indication of the amount of time a device was waiting to acquire the channel. Time delays between packets from sta- tions within the set are computed, and stations are removed from the set when their delay difference to the idle-wait-time has reached zero, and new devices are added to the set when DATA-retry packets are seen. Original packets (DATA without the retry bit), reset the idle-wait-time for that sta- tion. Thus at any given instant, the set of mutually contending devices can be enumerated, giving some indication of carrier sense interference. 24 Chapter 3 The wypy Framework Given large datasets of trace data, the ability to process and analyze the data in easy and extensible ways is of paramount importance for the development of the detection schemes outlined later. Starting with packet-level logs and a vague idea of patterns contained within the logs, how do we start to test our ideas, and models? The wypy (“why pie”) system was designed foremost to aid in the ex- perimental process. The name is derived from from why − reflecting the primary goal to detect interference − and Python − reflecting the language it was written in (not to mention that it rhymes withWifi). wypy is a lightweight framework comprising selective packet parsing, tagging, merg- ing of tracefiles, and a general pipelined system where analysis components called analyzers can be chained together to promote code reuse and modu- larity. 3.1 Architecture ... merge Job batch pipeline ∆T analyzer chain report Figure 3.1: The wypy architecture 25 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework In Figure 3.1 we see an overview of the wypy system. The major steps corresponding to i) input of packet level traces, ii) optional merging of trace files to time synchronize them and remove duplicates, iii) input into a pipeline process which buffers packets by timebucket ∆T and feeds this buffer through a chain of analyzers at which iv) information is aggregated and reported. 3.1.1 Input The the input to wypy involves one or more sniffer or monitor nodes running in promiscuous mode, which collect and record all 802.11 frames they are able to decode in the local airspace. wypy works on the level of pcap [32] format tracefiles. The pcap format is simple − a flat, binary file with two main parts: a file header, and a sequence of records (corresponding to cap- tured frames). The purpose of the file header is to establish byte ordering, state the type of link layer frame present in the file, and declare any global time zone offsets as used by the timestamps of the contained records. A 16 byte header precedes every record giving a timestamp for the recorded frame and its length in the trace file. Field Bytes Description timestamp 8 4 byte seconds, 4 byte µs snaplen 4 Length of packet in tracefile caplen 4 Length of actual packet (in the air) Table 3.1: Pcap record structure. Directly following the contents of the pcap header is the link layer header. In practice, the two most common headers are the Prism (144 bytes) and RadioTap (variable size, at minimum 26 byte) variants. These physical layer headers are generated by wireless NICs when they are in promiscuous mode, and contain information such as channel, rate, signal quality, and CRC errors (if exposed). 3.1.2 Parsing Beyond the link layer frame headers the actual 802.11 packet header begins, and each packet is passed to the variable packet parser. “Variable” here simply means that the degree of parsing for 802.11 packets can be deter- mined. Its format is quite complex, and depending on the application, not 26 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework every part of the header need be parsed. An 802.11 packet comes in three flavours (types) − DATA, MANAGE- MENT, and CONTROL. Each type has a 8-16 packet subtypes. Depending on their type 802.11 can very greatly in size, and format. This is by careful design − for example ACK packets (a type of CONTROL packet), need to be extremely short to decrease their probability of being corrupted while in the air. Type Description DATA Regular data traffic CONTROL ACKs, RTS, CTS MANAGEMENT beacons, authentication, probing for APs Table 3.2: Types of 802.11 packets and some representative subtypes. In wypy packets are viewed as concatenated blocks of bytes. This anal- ogy is especially useful for protocols like 802.11 that have different formats depending on their type. To make this notion concreate, the Packet ob- ject of wypy subclasses Python’s built-in list type. Each protocol header then is subclassed from the wypy HeaderBlock object, which simply contains attributes and information on how to parse them from a block of bytes. Pro- tocols such as TCP would be a single headerblock, whereas 802.11 comprises 7 different HeaderBlock’s. A Packet is created by instantiating it (really just an empty list, with some extra scaffolding), passing in a sequence of anonymous bytes representing the packet payload, and append-ing various HeaderBlock’s. The append triggers parsing behind the scenes, making it easy to use and write parses for new protocols. Every 802.11 packet begins with a 2 byte FrameControl field, which states the packet type and subtype, whether the packet has been retried, and what mode the device that sent it is operating in (ad hoc vs. managed vs. a bridge between networks, etc.). Other key fields are the SequenceControl (2 bytes) field, which gives sequence numbers for data packets, DurationID (2 bytes) field which states the time at which listening stations should back off for, and address (6 byte ethernet style) fields giving sender, destination and SSID (network name) information. Packet Tagging Given that there are a variety of types of packets that can be had from a 802.11 session, a quick and transparent way of determining attributes on 27 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework Frame Subtype Fields DATA FrameControl, DurationID, 3 Addresses, SequenceControl ACK FrameControl, DurationID, 1 Address (destination) MANAGEMENT FrameControl, DurationID, 1 Address, SequenceControl RTS FrameControl, DurationID, 2 Addresses Table 3.3: A example of how field structure can vary for a few representative 802.11 packets. packets is needed. This is most useful when testing and setting attributes during analyzer program. For example, if a packet p was a corrupted (via CRC-error) data packet, in wypy the simple operation of: p += "data" p += "corrupted" “tags” the packets with various informational attributes. Later process- ing steps can check for tags, take appropriate steps or set their own tags. A checking of state can be performed via: if "corrupted" in p: ...do something... 3.1.3 Merging The merging component takes n trace files representing a set of local mon- itors in some active airspace. Currently merging all n files is performed pairwise for simplicity, similar to the “waterfall process” as done in [23], though wypy ’s merge can be easily be extended to an n-way online merge similar to that in [9, 30]. The algorithm is divided into a number of phases. The run-time analysis will be based on n trace files with O(k) records each: 1. bootstrap synchronization - Since the clocks which produced the trace files are assumed to be wildly varying at worst, and at best synced with NTP (which provides millisecond resolution), a suitable reference packet heard by both monitors must be searched for. The time difference between two reference packets represents the initial time offset between the two clocks. An arbitrary trace file clock is used as a global time. As mentioned earlier, not all 802.11 packets are 28 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework r11 r12 r12 r21 r22 r22 delay data-ack missing duplicate synchronization and clock skew t1 t before 2 t after 2 Figure 3.2: An overview of merging. Two tracefiles are presented for sim- plicity, t1 is the master trace file. Trace file t2 contains the same reference packets, so the region in between both reference packets are linearly scaled to match the masters. Notice we also have to merge packets that may be unique to both traces, and also make sure not to include duplicates. suitable to be used as reference packets, since they are not distinguish- able from each other. wypy uses DATA packets without the retransmit bit set, and uses the Address fields and SequenceControl information as unique markers. Since the clocks may not necessarily be synced via NTP (or at least, it is prudent to have the merge process robust against this possibility), the issue of wrapped sequence numbers need be dealt with − that is, the possibility that an earlier “actual-time” version of the packet wasn’t recorded in one trace, but later on in time a “wrapped around” version of the packet was encountered and that is used as a reference packet. wypy takes care of this by searching for a set of reference packets, and choosing the minimum time offset for its initial offset. 2. merging - After an initial offset is determined (assuming no clock drift), all timestamps on the trace files can be corrected by the additive 29 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework offset, and the process can be treated as merging sorted lists, which can be done in O(k) time. For merging n trace files, the heads of each trace file can be placed in a priority queue, resulting in a total time to merge of O(k log n). 3. resynchronizing - To deal with inevitable clock drift, between two trace files wypy finds pairs of reference packets, and linearly interpo- lates (“stretches”) the time spans of these sections so that they match. This resynchronization procedure is invoked via callbacks triggered by positions in the file corresponding to the last round of resychronization plus some offset set heuristically (to avoid unneeded constant resyn- chronization between monitors that have a large overlap between what they hear). The total process results in a very fine grained piece-wise linear approximation to the unknown non-linear clock skew. ... ... possible duplicates heads remove retransmits merged rrr Figure 3.3: Assuming the clocks are reliably synced, we must merge the heads together, checking for duplicates, and making sure not to remove too man retransmitted packets. 3.1.4 Job and State Management The job and state management functionality of wypy serve to buffer incom- ing merged and parsed packets into a unit of time called a timebucket ∆T . This is the large-scale granularity that later analyzers will operate on, or where decisions of interference will be made. Later, we’ll discuss how best 30 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework to choose this timebucket. The duration can be for any amount of time, though it’s usually set on the time granularity of seconds. The wypy Job is instantiated with with a list of analyzers and exports a batch of packets that share the same timebucket to be sequentially passed through the analyzer chain. Each analyzer subclasses wypy ’s Analyzer class, which defines a clear API for interacting with the wypy pipeline − a packet batch is processed through an process method which contains two subsystems defined below. 3.1.5 Analyzer Chain The analyzer chain is simply a list of instantiated analyzer objects. The idea is that each analyzer continually works on a batch of packets and computes various statistics or values, either for immediate visual feedback or logging purposes, or as a means of preprocessing the packet batch. Analyzers have the option of working either on timebucket granularity, or subdivisions of a timebucket called time windows. For example, a throughput analyzer would extract all devices flows and calculate throughput over some timewindow, say 200 ms, and add the throughput time series signal as an attributed to the batch to by used by an downstream analyzer, such as the correlation coeffi- cient analyzer described later. This allows for a highly modular analyses, as a specific analyzer would have a set of dependencies on upstream analyzers and need not recalculate everything itself. For example, a type of analyzer callled a Filter processes the packet batch and filters out simultaneous sending devices, and annotes the batch with a set of MAC addresses, which can be used by downstream analyzers to calculate things like throughput more efficiently. Every analyzer has its own state manager which issues a State object each timewindow. The State object is just a container object for attributes that are calculated each timewindow. In the throughput example each state would hold the number of bytes transmitted by a device during the time window. An end of timewindow aggregatemethod is called on the resultant linst of state objects and a final calculations over the whole timewindow are made. In the throughput case it may just be culling out the information in each timewindow and normalizing it. 3.2 Implementation The wypy system was written in the Python [33] programming language − a high level, dynamic interpreted language, making extensive use of the SciPy and NumPy [26] projects, which provide fast resizeable multidimensional 31 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework arrays and math functions. The advantage of using Python are speed of development and code clarity. It excels as a prototyping language, has a vast standard library, and integrates well with the underlying operating system. The disadvantage of using Python are speed and memory usage. Since the language is interpreted it suffers a distinct performance disadvantage compared to compiled languages such as C. Its memory is garbage collected, and its internal datastructures are primarily based on hashtables (dict and set), which can lead to increased in memory usage. Though the initial reaction when dealing with performance constraints such as these is to reimplement it in a faster, compiled language, the situ- ation is not so hopeless. Being careful to avoid the dangers of premature optimization, there are a number of standard methods to improving speed in Python. The laguage ships with a number of profilers that can be used to find hotspots within the code-base to be optimized. There also exist a number add on packages and modules which are designed for Python op- timization tasks. Though the aim of this work is to provide an extensible toolkit for quick iterations of data analysis, some optimization steps were taken. As a first pass, we tried psyco (“Python Specializing Compiler”) [29], which is a “Just In Time” (JIT) extension module to Python. The psyco compiler generates machine code at runtime, and does real-time profiling to find hotspots. With very little tuning “out of the box”, psyco leant 30-50% improvements to running time, with minor increase of memory usage. 3.3 Analyzers To give a flavour of the type of processing done by analyzers, a few exemplar ones will be overviewed, and we’ll show how to chain them together to reuse code and potentially boost efficiency. Throughput This is perhaps the simplest analyzer. Our analyze step just creates a dic- tionary per state of bytes sent from a sender, receiver pair. The aggregate state simply produces a timeseries of these throughputs (putting a 0 in the time series if it wasn’t seen during a time window, as shown below. def analyze(packets_tw, current_state): """ Given the packets falling in our 32 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework timewindow, keep track of number of bytes sent for a sender, receiver pair """ for packet in packets_tw: pair = (packet.sender, packet.destination) current_state.counts[pair] += len(packet) def aggregate(states): """ Given a list of states (one per timewindow), aggregate statistics over the whole time bucket (largest scale time granularity) """ final_throughputs = {} for state in states: for pair, throughput in state.counts: final_throughputs[state] = throughput \ or 0 if pair not seen Simultaneous Senders The set of simultaneously sending devices provides useful information about the airspace. For example in the hidden terminal interference scenario, all interfering terminals to some victim will be in its simultaneous sender set. In the case of the exposed sender (CS range) scenario, where only one device is active at one time, any exposed devices can’t be in the simultaneous sending set. Given a set of packets, how do we determine the simultaneous senders. This is most easily done with any packet that contains a DurationID field, such as DATA packets. When a DATA packet is sent, this implies the sender has direct control of the local airspace − that is, it won the contention period. The time spent in control of the airspace is determined by the size of the transmitted frame, and the rate it which is sent at. Within DATA packets, a NAV is set for the duration of the packet’s ACK, a duration which all listening devices must back off for. Thus, for each packet in our set, we can take the packet’s time stamp as the time just before the packet was sent (we only care about the relative time in between packets), and knowing its size and rate (from the link layer header), we can calculate how long it was in the air for. Adding on to this 33 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework time, gives a total duration, which can be checked against other durations for overlap. SS  = {A, C} SS  = {A, C} SS  = {A, B, C} t1 t1 t1 t2 t2 t2 t3 t3 t3 tw 1 tw 2 tw 3 tw 4 AAA BBB CCC time bucket Figure 3.4: A number of devices active within sub time windows of a time bucket. A device is active from the beginning of their timestamp, to how long it would have taken to transmit their packet, plus their duration. def analyze(packets_tw, current_state): """ Given the packets falling in our timewindow, keep track of which devices are overlapping """ for packet in packets_tw: time_in_air = pkt.timestamp + pkt.nav + \ + pkt.length / pkt.rate check for overlaps in all other devices def aggregate(states): """ Given a list of states (one per timewindow), aggregate statistics over the whole time bucket (largest scale time granularity) """ 34 Chapter 3. The wypy Framework reverse dictioanry for each state to produce for each device, the set of simultaneous senders (optionally filter by degree - for example, only keep simultaneous senders that sent more than 50% of the time) 35 Chapter 4 Detecting Interference In an interfering scenario, when one device sends, the other device is unable to get its packets through to its recipient. Let’s assume that both devices are streaming traffic, and making full use of the available airspace, for argu- ment’s sake. If two devices a victim and a interferer are both sending the interferer always wins and “drowns out” the victim. Thus, the throughput of the two devices follow a pattern − when the in- terferer’s throughput goes up, the victim’s throughput goes down. Likewise when the interferer’s throughput goes down the victim’s throughput goes up. Any deviation by either device will result in the other device immediately picking up the slack. Our detection method seeks to exploit this throughput correlation by observing it in live network data. 4.0.1 Correlation If we let the throughput for one device beX and the throughput for the other be Y , we will make an assumption that fluctuations in throughput between pairs of devices considered in isolation from others is a linear relationship. What this means is that: ∆Y = α∆X + b (4.1) That is throughput changes between X and Y are linear. In fact, for in- terfering scenarios we say that the two throughputs are negatively correlated - “one goes up, the other goes down”. The correlation coefficient, given by: ρX,Y = cov(X,Y ) σXσY (4.2) = E((X − µX)(Y − µY )) σXσY (4.3) = E(XY )−E(X)E(Y )√ E(X2)− E2(X) √ E(Y 2)−E2(Y ) (4.4) 36 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference and is defined to give a value in [−1, 1], where a 1 imples strong positive linear correlation, a 0 implies no linear correlation, and a -1 implies strong negative linear correlation. Any time we calculate the correlation coefficient (CC) we do so on the samples of throughput, represented by a timeseries, as given below: rxy = Σ(xi − x̄)(yi − ȳ) (n− 1)sxsy (4.5) = Σxiyi − nx̄ȳ (n− 1)sxsy (4.6) = nΣxiyi − ΣxiΣyi√ nΣx2i − (Σxi) 2 √ nΣy2i − (Σyi) 2 (4.7) which is called Pearsons’ correlation. 4.1 The Algorithm The algorithm is as follows. Given n devices in a timebucket, for all pairs of devices find all the simultaneous senders. Consider only the set of simul- taneou senders (in the hidden terminal scenario). Calculate the throughput of each device, and calculate the correlation coefficient value betweeen each pair. As a filtering step, we remove any section of a timeseries between de- vices that vary more than 10% of the other, that is we only consider parts that could possibly be caused by the other signal. This is to avoid associat- ing external causes in a signal to a device it is being testing for interference against. If the determined correlation is below a threshold of −0.7 (explained below), we classify the pair as interfering, else we say non-interfering. 4.2 Experimental Setup Our testbed consists of seven nodes, two LinkSys APs, two clients, and three monitor nodes in a 8m x 8m room. The wireless chipsets for each client are Ralink RT2500 1.1.0, the APs use Broadcom and the monitor nodes use Atheros Madwifi 0.9.33. We use altered antennas to attenuate signal strength, and change the network topology by adjusting transmission-power settings. The clients and monitors run Linux kernel 2.6.22 with the high- resolution timers enabled; the system clock frequency is set to 1000 Hz, and the APs run OpenWRT WhiteRussian. The transmitting rate is fixed at 54 37 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference Mbps. The autorate function is disabled so that topology does not change during the runs. We generate traffic on the testbed using the “Distributed Internet Traffic Generator (D-ITG)” [4] using a gaussian distributed inter-packet time, given in ms. We use UDP traffic for the following experiments. 4.3 Experiments We set up and test correlation values on three topologies: 1. No interference 2. Hidden Terminal Interference 3. Exposed Terminal (CS Range) Interference In each topology we run generate 10 minutes of streaming traffic and calculate the correlation coefficient on time buckets of 10 s. Each 10 s time interval has a throughput time series calculated on the resolution of 10 ms. monitor access point client Figure 4.1: Our testbed. A hidden terminal interference scenario with strong interference (larger than -60 dBm) 38 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference 0 10 20 30 40 50 Time Bucket -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 C C  V a lu e s Interference: none, Topology: NoInterference (mean:0.5 std:0.0) (mean:0.5 std:6.0) (mean:0.5 std:3.0) (mean:0.5 std:1.0) (mean:0.5 std:2.0) Figure 4.2: Results for normally distributed inter packet time in a no inter- ference scenario. Correlation results closer to 0.5 imply no linear correlation. 4.4 Determining the threshold Examining the CDF of the correlation coefficient values allow us to de- termine the best value to set our threshold. Ideally, we’d like to choose a threshold at the “bend” in the graph that allows us to classify most instances of interference as seen in our testbed. We can see that using a threshold of −0.7 allows us to classify more than 90% of interfering scenarios. Also note that in examining the CDF of a non-interference scenario, we gener- ally get no correlation. This demonstrates the discriminative power of the correlation coefficient. 39 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference 0 10 20 30 40 50 Time Bucket -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 C C  V a lu e s Interference: strong, Topology: hidden (mean:0.5 std:0.0) (mean:0.5 std:6.0) (mean:0.5 std:3.0) (mean:0.5 std:1.0) (mean:0.5 std:2.0) Figure 4.3: Results for normally distributed inter packet time in a strong interference scenario. Correlation results reports, closer to -1 means a strong negative correlation. 40 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference 0 10 20 30 40 50 Time Bucket -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 C C  V a lu e s Interference: strong, Topology: exposed (mean:0.5 std:0.0) Figure 4.4: CDF for CC values in the exposed sender interference scenario. -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 CC Values 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 C D F  d is tr ib u ti o n Interference: none, Topology: NoInterference Figure 4.5: CDF for CC values in the no interference scenario. 41 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference -1.0 -0.9 -0.8 -0.7 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1 CC Values 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 C D F  d is tr ib u ti o n Interference: strong, Topology: hidden Figure 4.6: CDF for CC values in strong interference scenario (hidden terminal). 42 Chapter 4. Detecting Interference -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 CC Values 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 C D F  d is tr ib u ti o n Interference: strong, Topology: exposed Figure 4.7: CDF for CC values in strong interference scenario (exposed terminal). 43 Chapter 5 Conclusion and Future Work We conclude that using correlation of throughputs to detect interference is a promising line of research. Evaluation on hidden and exposed terminal scenarios under different types of bursty traffic showcased its ability to dis- criminate between interfering and non-interfering situations. 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