Detecting malicious false frame injection attacks on surveillance systems at the edge using electrical network frequency signals

Deeraj Nagothu, Yu Chen, Erik Blasch, Alexander Aved, Sencun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Over the past few years, the importance of video surveillance in securing national critical infrastructure has significantly increased, with applications including the detection of failures and anomalies. Accompanied by the proliferation of video is the increasing number of attacks against surveillance systems. Among the attacks, False Frame Injection (FFI) attacks that replay video frames from a previous recording to mask the live feed has the highest impact. While many attempts have been made to detect FFI frames using features from the video feeds, video analysis is computationally too intensive to be deployed on-site for real-time false frame detection. In this paper, we investigated the feasibility of FFI attacks on compromised surveillance systems at the edge and propose an effective technique to detect the injected false video and audio frames by monitoring the surveillance feed using the embedded Electrical Network Frequency (ENF) signals. An ENF operates at a nominal frequency of 60 Hz/50 Hz based on its geographical location and maintains a stable value across the entire power grid interconnection with minor fluctuations. For surveillance system video/audio recordings connected to the power grid, the ENF signals are embedded. The time-varying nature of the ENF component was used as a forensic application for authenticating the surveillance feed. The paper highlights the ENF signal collection from a power grid creating a reference database and ENF extraction from the recordings using conventional short-time Fourier Transform and spectrum detection for robust ENF signal analysis in the presence of noise and interference caused in different harmonics. The experimental results demonstrated the effectiveness of ENF signal detection and/or abnormalities for FFI attacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2424
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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