Reverse Engineering the Apple Wireless Direct Link Protocol

Master Thesis


Analysis: 3
Empiricism: 10
Implementation: 6
Literature Research: 2


Abstract of final thesis:

Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL) is a proprietary and undocumented 802.11 based peer-to-peer protocol. It is implemented in all of Apple's operating systems. In this thesis a reverse engineering method using binary analysis complemented by runtime analysis with traces and logs was applied. We found that each device in AWDL provides its own channel sequence. An elected master node is used to synchronize these sequences. Outside these windows of time, devices can use their wireless radio for other protocols or save energy by turning it off. Each node adapts its channel sequence, e.g. depending on network load, shifting the ratio between infrastructure and peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. This thesis also provides a first analysis of AWDL, includes the frame format documentation and presents a Wireshark dissector and a prototype implementation for AWDL.

End: 15.08.2017


Student: David Kreitschmann

Research Areas: Sichere Mobile Netze



Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Hollick

Technische Universität Darmstadt
Department of Computer Science
Secure Mobile Networking Lab 

Mornewegstr. 32 (S4/14)
64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Phone: +49 6151 16-25472
Fax: +49 6151 16-25471


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