A Comprehensive Survey on Radio Frequency (RF) Fingerprinting: Traditional Approaches, Deep Learning, and Open Challenges
Fifth generation (5G) networks and beyond envisions massive Internet of Things (IoT) rollout to support disruptive applications such as extended reality (XR), augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), industrial automation, autonomous driving, and smart everything which brings together massive and diverse IoT devices occupying the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. Along with spectrum crunch and throughput challenges, such a massive scale of wireless devices exposes unprecedented threat surfaces. RF fingerprinting is heralded as a candidate technology that can be combined with cryptographic and zero-trust security measures to ensure data privacy, confidentiality, and integrity in wireless networks. Motivated by the relevance of this subject in the future communication networks, in this work, we present a comprehensive survey of RF fingerprinting approaches ranging from a traditional view to the most recent deep learning (DL) based algorithms. Existing surveys have mostly focused on a constrained presentation of the wireless fingerprinting approaches, however, many aspects remain untold. In this work, however, we mitigate this by addressing every aspect - background on signal intelligence (SIGINT), applications, relevant DL algorithms, systematic literature review of RF fingerprinting techniques spanning the past two decades, discussion on datasets, and potential research avenues - necessary to elucidate this topic to the reader in an encyclopedic manner.