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Wireless Security Attacks and Defenses 120

An anonymous reader writes "IT-Observer is running a comprehensive overview of wireless attacks and defenses. From the article: 'Wireless technology can provide numerous benefits in the business world. By deploying wireless networks, customers, partners, and employees are given the freedom of mobility from within and from outside of the organization. This can help businesses to increase productivity and effectiveness, lower costs and increase scalability, improve relationships with business partners, and attract new customers.'"
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Wireless Security Attacks and Defenses

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I see that keeping leeching wardrivers out isn't covered.
  • I suggest replacing the phrase "increase productivity and effectiveness, lower costs and increase scalability, improve relationships with business partners, and attract new customers." with "blah." This way we can write things like "X will help businesses to blah" knowing "blah" stands for "do anything that business wants done." As an added bonus, we won't have to change "blah" everytime stupid business buzzwords change. "Blah" always means whatever buzzwords are in vogue.
  • Comprehensive... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @12:57PM (#15343387)
    ..yet not a mention of WPA
    • The article doesn't mention much of anything else useful for that matter.

      My favorite was the suggestion to disable DHCP. Anyone that you might be afraid of can use a sniffer and find the address range. If you've got an address and don't know the mask, the router will be more than happy to give it to you, either explicity through a routing protocol or you can just take a few stabs and see if the requests are reflected back to the subnet. Why do people insist on protecting their networks from newbies and
  • Its the same if you leave your door unlocked, or window open. Alot of businesses I work with have been avoiding using Wireless technology because they are afraid it will make them more vulnerable. Its more that they don't understand how to implement and secure it properly, and don't want to spend the time or money to do so.
    • Re:Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:17PM (#15343559)

      Which is a very good reason for not implementing it. I would strongly advise any business not to install IT which they don't understand how to implement and secure it properly because they would be, unwittingly, leaving the door open.

      Here in the rarified atmosphere of /. we may laugh at the lamers and their pathetic inability to utilise IT. Out there in the real world people are simply getting on with it. Maybe they have better things to spend their time and money on than installing all the latest geek toys.

      As a frinstance, my brother is a very successful salesman. He doesn't even own a laptop and can see no reason to do so. He's too busy earning a great deal more money than I do to bother about it.

      • The blanket statement of "I don't need IT" is just as bad a saying "I need to have IT". Every situation is different.
        There is nothing wrong with not using IT or other types of office helpers in a small business. The problem though is that system does not scale well if you are growing. You eventually will not be able to effectively run your business or maintain any consistent and accurate records yourself. You will either need another person or some type of technology or some combination of both. As the
    • Well, there are a couple of differences. Usually, when somebody comes in your business they take something, and there is some physical evidence. They also have to do this after-hours. A wireless attack can happen in a busy environment in broad daylight and leave not a trace (unless you have intrusion detection systems).

      And on an only slightly-related note, what can home users do to secure a wireless network -- besides the obvious stuff like use encryption, change passwords, disable SSID, MAC filtering, e
      • OpenVPN [] runs on: Linux, Windows 2000/XP and higher, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Mac OS X, and Solaris. An OpenVPN PocketPC port is under development.
    • Re:Duh! (Score:2, Redundant)

      by NineNine ( 235196 )
      Its more that they don't understand how to implement and secure it properly, and don't want to spend the time or money to do so.

      And that's a perfectly valid reason not to implement it. That's why we won't implement it. Besides, cat 5 cable is insanely cheap.
      • Re:Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by harrkev ( 623093 ) <kfmsd AT harrelsonfamily DOT org> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:30PM (#15343650) Homepage
        Besides, cat 5 cable is insanely cheap.

        OK. The cable itself is cheap. Putting it where it needs to be is expensive. At my company, we hire outside contractors to run all of our cable. It seems like I am always spools of cable lying around, and guys with their feet on a ladder and their heads in the ceiling. Since an outside company is doing this, it turns a $10/hour worker into a $30/hour or more expence to my company.

        But still, the wireless is usually used for the manager laptops. They have to have to be able to check Lookout ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h Outlook in meeting.
        • Re:Duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by misleb ( 129952 )
          Network cabling really needs to be planned and implemented as if it were power or phones. When you move into an office, you spend a little extra money to have all offices wired with 2 or more CAT5 connections right next to the phone jack and you never have to worry about it again. PUt a hub under the conference table if you need network access at meetings. Wireless is convenient and all, but hardly essential for a business which thinks ahead to have proper wiring done in the first place. Heck, where I used
        • learn ^w it's much easier
        • "Lookout ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h Outlook"

          Ok...I've got to ask as I've seen it often enough before. What do all the ctl-h's mean when used like this..? Is it supposed to look like something? All I get is gibberish...

    • Re:Duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ePhil_One ( 634771 )
      Its more that they don't understand how to implement and secure it properly, and don't want to spend the time or money to do so.

      No, its because they understand that it cannot be secured properly. If you think it can, either you don't understand the risks or you have a different definition of acceptable risk than they do. Assuming your clients are stupid because they don't agree with you isn't the key to a successful career

      Or maybe they know how to implement it, and aren't willing to spend the resources (

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:01PM (#15343422)
    ...IMO indicates a major problem behind the thinking of many corporate IT departments. Anyone who grants access a machine access to sensititive or confidential data simply because it is on the network is a moron.

    Know what confidential data you can access by simply connecting a computer to the network at my school and most universities, for that matter? Almost nothing! All confidential data should be protected with end-to-end encryption, then the worst that can happen if a third party gets a machine on the internal network is that they can use excessive amounts of bandwidth. Denial-of-service attacks are much easier to recover from than (possible) leaks of confidential data.
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:04PM (#15343445)
    Make sure your home/office/whatever is built like a Fermi chamber.

    Even if somebody somehow makes wireless networking as secure as good ol' fashioned copper, it still can't be made perfectly secure! The ONLY way to ensure absolute security is to pull the power cord(s) out. Oh, and smash the hard disks with an ax.

    That said, I wonder how long it'll be before construction companies start offering to make buildings RF-impervious? Y'know, I might actually pay to have something like that done; it would go a long way to enhancing wireless security at my house.

  • "Wireless blah productivity blah low-cost blah blah company blah..." How about something that pertains to the headline of "Wireless Security Attacks and Defenses" instead of a press release about the wonders of wireless networks? /me feels the wrath of the mod-monsters
  • We run wireless @ the plant I work in and it seems to not be fully dependable. I'm not a big fan of wireless, not for the security, but because of the little things that can take it out. It can be more productive if implemented correctly, but there's alot to keep in mind when you do this.
    • The fact that you call it a plant makes me wonder what kind of RF interference might be there. Many manufacturing plants produce A LOT of RF interference. Could that be the reason your wireless is undependable?
      • We run spuhl coling machines. I'm definitely sure that RF interference is a problem from all the consoles on the machines. But again that's implementing it properly. With that much intereference, it shouldn't be on the floor at all. Pluse I'm not entirely sure the scanners we use aren't interefering as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Article didn't seem to have the pictures and diagrams that the text referred to. -Security-Attacks-Defenses.html [] is a version of the article with those pictures

  • "Another advanced defense method that is possible, although unlikely, is to create an in-house encryption algorithm to use for encoding your network's data."

    No, no, no, no, NO

    As Bruce Schneier says "Public security is always more secure than proprietary security" SourceandSecurity []

    Also, why don't they mention WPA? ( s [] )
    • Yes, but any security at all, even if very easily circumvented, is better than no security. Sure, ROT-13 does nothing, but if someone is snooping and doesn't immediately understand, they're more likely to move on to less difficult targets.
      • Not if it fools you into thinking you're safe. Paranoia trumps complacency.
      • any security at all, even if very easily circumvented, is better than no security

        However, *bad* security (such as your ROT-13 example) is worse than no security at all, because it leads you to believe you're actually doing something, when in fact you're not.

        If you implement something that doesn't actually do anything, you've wasted time. If it doesn't do anything, why did you implement it?

        Because you've convinced yourself that it does do something, and the fact that it doesn't means that you've lulled your
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:09PM (#15343495)
    Three guys named Brad and another one named Josh post a fluffy little article on security for wireless, then cover about 1/3rd of the basics, and none of the tough stuff.

    In a word, they should be punished. And someone should tape their eyes open while reading WiFoo or another good book on just how many zillion interesting hacks there are for wireless. And then, the site should get the check back-- if they were so silly as to have paid these guys.

    And I wonder, how many more airy and light posts will there be, today? Slashdot Lite, less filling, less intelligent-- news for birds.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:11PM (#15343510) Homepage Journal

    Look at page 3. It's the one where they tell you what you should do to secure your network.

    Even with its inherent weaknesses, Wireless Encryption Protocols or WEP is still a good method for preventing attackers from capturing your network traffic. Less-experienced hackers will probably not even attempt to capture data packets from a wireless network that is broadcasting using WEP.

    Bullshit. Everything you need to do this can be found on a single Linux LiveCD (Auditor Linux) including the kit for doing replay attacks. Only unmotivated "hackers" will fail to crack WEP.

    Score: 0/1

    MAC Address Blocking - For smaller, more static networks you can specify which computers should be able access to your wireless access points. Telling the access points which hardware MAC addresses can join the network does this. Although, like WEP, in which this can be bypassed by knowledgeable hackers, it is still a valid method for keeping many intruders at bay.

    Bullshit. Again, this will only get people who are unmotivated. MAC spoofing is a triviality. It typically will stop drive-by users of wifi, because they can usually find one that has no "protection" and they can use that. MAC restriction will NOT stop anyone who wants onto your network for any reason other than a minor whim.

    Score: 0/2

    Ditch the Defaults - Most wireless devices are being sold today with default configurations that are easily exploited. The three main areas to watch out for are the router administration passwords, SSID broadcasting, and the channel used to broadcast the signal.

    Using a halfway decent scanner makes ANY settings changes you do (besides turning on WPA) utterly useless.

    Score: 0/3

    Beacon Intervals [...] These intervals should be maximized to make it more difficult to find the network. The network appears quieter and any passive listening devices are not as productive at gathering and cracking encryption keys.

    Again, a good scanner makes this irrelevant.

    Score: 0/4

    Access Lists - Using MAC ACL's (MAC Address Access List) creates another level of difficulty to hacking a network. A MAC ACL is created and distributed to AP so that only authorized NIC's can connect to the network.

    Uh, this is the same thing as "mac address blocking". They're the SAME FEATURE, just one is default accept, and the other is default deny.

    Score: 0/5 (I should really assign a negative point for trying to use the same feature as a bullet point twice, but I'll be nice.)

    Controlling Reset - Something as simple as controlling the reset function can add a great deal of security and reduce the risk of potential hack to your network. After all the security measures are in place and the proper encryption settings are enforced, the factory built "reset" button available on nearly all wireless routers/AP's can, in an obvious way, wipe out everything.

    If someone has physical access to your AP, you're fucked anyway. If they can do remote admin in your AP, you're an idiot anyway - and turning off remote admin isn't even listed as a good idea here.

    Score: 0/6

    Disable DHCP - Disabling the use of DHCP in a wireless network is again, a simple but effective roadblock to potential hackers.

    No, it isn't. A few moments of sniffing will tell you what you need to know. Utterly useless and it just makes your life harder.

    Score: 0/7

    This article tells you nothing about how to effectively secure your network. In fact, it tells you to do a whole bunch of things that won't work.

    Want to secure wifi? There is only one means to do so, and that is to use a tunnel with strong encryption. Whether you're using com

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:18PM (#15343564)
      Yeah, 'cause setting up a VPN or ssh tunnels is something EVERYONE can do.

      Oh wait, they can't... following the techniques outlined in the article won't stop someone who is determined to get somewhere, just like locking your door won't keep someone who really wants to get into your house out, but as a general deterrant works pretty well.

      If you're that bloody paranoid about someone scooping your shemale porn downloads, just stay on the wire.

      • Actually, there are pretty simple VPN products out there. Of course, most of the simplest ones are useless, especially PPTP with MS-CHAP has huge known security holes and should never be used... But getting PPTP to work anywhere other than Windows is kind of a bitch anyway. Regardless, most people simply shouldn't be using WiFi. Those who do should be using WPA, which is what they should have suggested in the first place, since every other suggestion can be run over with freely available tools that are also
      • Turning on WPA would be a pretty good bet, and from my quick scan of TFA, they DON'T EVEN MENTION WPA AT ALL!

        VPN is better, but WEP is TOTALLY WORTHLESS. TOTALLY!

        If you could tell someone to do ONE thing, it certainly ought to be to turn on WPA and use a long PSK. The article was a waste of time for the authors.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Not everyone has WPA-capable devices. Everyone has WEP.

          • Then use nothing. No question in my mind about it. I'd rather have no locks on my doors so that I know to leave nothing valuable in the place than the illusion of good security and leave my valuables about. Bad locks are IMO, worse than no locks - precisely because a lock implies security. If the locks' security is as bad as that in WEP, then no locks would be better.

            The additional cost to any small business by upgrading the infrastructure capable of WPA is trivial. In most cases, all that would n
    • Haven't read TFA, just your summary here. Thanks for exposing your brain to this IQ sucking pap so the rest of us don't have to. Do they really call WEP "Wireless Encryption Protocol?" Because it means Wired Equivalent Privacy. They got every fucking word in the acronym wrong!

      WEP is also, as you point out, not anywhere equivalent to wired privacy.


      "Hey, look at me! I just read two chapters in a "Wireless for Dummies" book and I'm getting paid to write an article in a trade journal!"

      Where's the justice?
    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:56PM (#15343804) Homepage Journal
      One thing people often do is put the AP INSIDE their firewall, such as hanging it on a spare switch port.

      All the advice if for SERVERS but what about clients?

      In my office I can reach a nearby free WiFi. For kicks I set up my AP with the same SSID and ran it open. Sniff Sniff. Not even illegal as they are connecting to ME ! Remember kids, no expectation of privacy in public places runs both ways =)

    • You got a lot farther than I did. I got to the part about sticking an antenna into the PCMCIA slot to get a wireless connection and gave up on finding and intelligent discussion in the article.
    • Look at page 3. It's the one where they tell you what you should do to secure your network.

      Even with its inherent weaknesses, Wireless Encryption Protocols or WEP is still a good method for preventing attackers from capturing your network traffic. Less-experienced hackers will probably not even attempt to capture data packets from a wireless network that is broadcasting using WEP.

      Bullshit. Everything you need to do this can be found on a single Linux LiveCD (Auditor Linux) inclu
      • He *should* have said "WEP is a rubbish way of trying to prevent attackers from capturing your network traffic, use WPA".

        Sometimes bad security is worse than none at all as it makes people feel safe, when infact someone's just walked through that flimsy front door and nicked all the silverware.
      • Even with its inherent weaknesses, Wireless Encryption Protocols or WEP is still a good method for preventing attackers from capturing your network traffic. Less-experienced hackers will probably not even attempt to capture data packets from a wireless network that is broadcasting using WEP. Even if a hacker possesses the skills and tools necessary to crack WEP, it can be an extremely time-consuming process, especially when dealing with the newer 128-bit specification, which requires in excess of 500,000 ca

    • Good Comments: For anyone wanting to forego the joy of reading up on this material Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte have an excellent security podcast which has several episodes covering topics like WEP WPA ect. More info can be found at
    • by Anonymous Coward
      My favorite option is to leave it on defaults, firewall everything but my SSH port and port 80, and route everything over port 80 to goatse.

      If that doesn't keep people out, nothing would!
    • They mention warchalking, but not wifi mapping services []. Also, they brought up the old wwwd, which ended in '04.
  • Useless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zephyros ( 966835 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:15PM (#15343543)
    I don't trust any article about wireless security that says WEP has any use at all - "Not only is WEP a good way to ward off many would-be attackers, it is strengthened when used with other security techniques." Same for MAC filtering: "[although] this can be bypassed by knowledgeable hackers, it is still a valid method for keeping many intruders at bay." They'll keep your neighbors from hogging all of your bandwidth, but they won't keep out anybody who wants to get at your data.

    Not even a mention of WPA2, certificates (hardware/software), or any other actual security measures in there. Some decent stuff about PEBRAC errors in the beginning, and other changes that should be obvious to any netadmin with two brain cells to rub together, but TFA is really not even worth the time it takes to read.

  • by HackNack ( 853020 )

    This article may be helpful to some newbies, but I'm looking for something extra here. Where's the 802.11X and 802.11i/WPA2 information?

    I see WEP mentioned and then WEP2. I think that by WEP2 the author means TKIP. Of corse there is no explanation of what either does and why WEP2/TKIP is better than WEP.

    Why bother learning about MitM attacks? Rogue access points? ISD??? You're using WEP for God's sake!!!

    This is is basically something I'd expect to see on Digg. Any self-respecting /. visitor already kn

    • That's IDS by the way.
    • I must agree I was kind of not too impressed with the coverage of the article, however it did mention a few things I will look into like IDS and passive monitoring.

      Just the other day I configured a network across a couple of offices using OpenVPN and WPA-PSK with 'AES only' requiring WPA2. I was slightly wondering about my configuration as I selected to use a 64-bit Hex static key - Except for the VPN ports I mostly blocked all comunication over the regular cards, (except for allowing internett access to al
  • by farker haiku ( 883529 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:30PM (#15343651) Journal
    The article doesn't mention several things, like the more modern methods that wireless hackers are breaching security. instead of attacking at layer 3, attackers these days are focusing on layer 2 attacks... they're attacking the wireless device drivers themselves, looking for a way in. I heard a podcast where Joshua Wright was mentioning taking over devices that way so as to avoid those pesky firewalls. I just googled wireless hack layer 2 stack driver joshua wright to find some articles. You're on your own for specifics though - just say no to script kiddies.
  • worthless (Score:4, Funny)

    by GonzoBob ( 975262 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:35PM (#15343683)
    Funny the moment I read "which had come equipped with a factory-installed 802.11g antenna" I knew there wouldn't be anything of value.
    • How is this a troll? There is no such thing as a 802.11g antenna, there is only an 802.11g adapter, and a 2.4GHz antenna. Anyone actually qualified to write such an article would not make these errors. Therefore, the people who wrote the article are morons and the parent comment is entirely correct. See my earlier comment in this thread [] for exactly what is wrong in this article. Well, just from one page, and it's seven pieces of COMPLETELY WRONG INFORMATION. And I didn't even read the whole page!
  • by sarkeizen ( 106737 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:04PM (#15343844) Journal
    I maintain a wireless network of over 40 AP's for a college campus. This article spends much time on nothing.

    a) 'default' SSIDS are irrelevant. It doesn't make the networks easier to find. It's not like when I ask windows to "View Wireless Networks" it only shows me the ones called "linksys". Perhaps at one time seeing a router called 'linksys' might have made me think that the user is less likely to be running encryption but under XP it tells me right away which ones are encrypted and which aren't.

    b) Warchalking - old hat. Perhaps before it was feasable to simply leave my PDA running as I walk around and report all the AP's it sees this might have been useful.

    c) WEP - You've got to be joking. The article mentions the 'newer 128-bit specification' doesn't mention DWEP using 802.1x or WPA. Either make it much harder to crack.

    d) IDS - Possibly useful but really only once someone is accessing your system via your wireless.

    e) MACs - The article seems to vassilate here, on one hand saying that MAC isn't meant for access control and on the other saying that you should use them for ACLs. MAC authentication is useless, it's trival to find a useful MAC address on any network that's used regularly.

    f) DHCP - Stupid. Disabling it stops very little for very long. The vast majority of WLANs are using one of the three non-routable IP ranges. It wouldn't take me long to find one that's accessable. It also introduces a serious pain for the maintainers for the network.

    What it should mention are the following:

    a) Authentication - 802.1x preferably. I personally don't like web portals as it makes it easier to fool users with "evil twin" attacks.

    b) WPA2, using WEP or idealy AES.

    c) For corporate WLANs use a system that can use your own wireless networks to detect rogue AP's. I'm using Nortel (now cisco) 2270 (with 2230 aps) and I have SNMP traps which warn me when someone in the WLAN starts up an AP.

    d) VLANS - keep the WLAN traffic restricted to particular ports, destinations.

    e) Have a written policy for your users. Make them understand that adding their own wireless equipment is forbidden.

    f) Using some kind of authentication on your ethernet jacks helps - it's hard to find an AP that will do 802.1x on the WAN side. Even so, it would be tied to a particular user. Using the information from (c) you can just disable their account.

    f) Invest in a solution that keeps users OS and Virus software up-to-date.
    • For 802.1x/RADIUS auth I suggest people check out -- it's free.
    • a) 'default' SSIDS are irrelevant.

      I disagree. If you don't change your SSID, then someone can figure out what router you are using, and therefore will have an easier time breaking into it. They could either:
      a) Try the default password OR
      b) Using a known hack for that type of router (Although, I admit I don't know of any.)
    • b) Warchalking - old hat. Perhaps before it was feasable to simply leave my PDA running as I walk around and report all the AP's it sees this might have been useful.

      Warchalking is not so much old hat, as been dead for 4 years... and according to wikipedia [] "The symbol is now widely used as a shorthand in logos and advertising" I don't think its possible to get more old and busted (at least without the aid of a truss).

    • b) WPA2, using WEP or idealy AES

      WPA2 and WEP do not mix. WEP is a specifically prohibited encryption method when using WPA2. Your choices
      are AES and TKIP, and the spec does allow you to mix the two together at the same time.

      WEP - even dynamic WEP - is evil. It can be cracked in a period of a few minutes, which means you have to do key rotation faster than the time required to crack the key. Unfortunately, 802.1x with dynamic WEP does not have a standardized way of doing key rotation. Often the AP will
  • From the article: From his experience, the man knew instantly that he was dealing with a wireless router that was using a factory configuration.

    That kind of experience is breathtaking, gained from years and years, or even minutes, of reading the Kismet FAQ.

    I'm going across the road to see if any of my neighbours want me to set up their Wireless Routers for them. If they aren't going to read the manual, they certainly wont have read that article. Which begs the question, who exactly is supposed to read

  • by IEEEmember ( 610961 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:11PM (#15343881) Journal
    The May 10th, 2006 date on this article must be wrong. The article is obviously months or years old. The lack of information about WPA, the discussion of warchalking and the dates of the referenced material all indicate this article was written sometime in early 2005 or late 2004. It was posted on invulnerableit in 11/2005, but I suspect it is older than that.
  • I've come up with the perfect method of securing any wireless network from RF-based attack, 100% effective against wardrivers, and with a healthy speed boost as well.

    I call it "wire."

    • Someone could still DoS your wired network by pointing a HERF device at the location of the network cable, but you're right about the difficulty of extracting data from that channel. On the other hand, ethernet cables are just long wires, and a long wire with a on-off signal on it is a pretty effective antenna itself...
  • There's quite an easy solution for this. It's used at our university for the offices of employees. Some time ago you could just plug in a PC, assign a valid IP-address and use the net, authorisation was done by physical access to the room, or lack thereof. Then I had to install a new PC, plugged the network in, but nothing worked. It took me some time to figure out that the network port was blocked, because a new MAC address was seen on this port. That's true, once they detect any new MAC address, they comp
  • I have a hard time taking an article seriously when simple technical terminology is grossly incorrect.
  • It'd be nice to have a a program for the wrt54g that scans for new access points regularly, reporting them if they route through the company LAN. Even better would be the ability to automatically gather packets and crack WEP for the route testing part.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus