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Wireless Security

Wireless Security

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Published by: api-26355935 on Oct 17, 2008
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Wireless communications offer organizations and users many benefits such as portability and flexibility, increased productivity, and lower installation costs. Perhaps the most significant source of risks in wireless networks is that the technology’s underlying communications medium, the airwave, is open to intruders, making it the logical equivalent of an Ethernet port in the parking lot. The loss of confidentiality and integrity and the threat of denial of service (DoS) attacks are risks typically associated with wireless communications. Many organizations poorly administer their wireless technologies.

Eg :- deploying equipment with “factory default” settings, failing to control or inventory access points, not implementing the security capabilities provided, and not developing or employing a security architecture suitable to the wireless environment (e.g., one with firewalls between wired and systems, blocking of unneeded services/ports, use of strong cryptography).

Most of the risks can be mitigated. However, mitigating these risks requires considerable tradeoffs between technical solutions and costs. The more immediate concerns for wireless communications are device theft, denial of service, malicious hackers, malicious code, theft of service, and industrial and foreign espionage. Theft is likely to occur with wireless devices because of

Authorized and unauthorized users of the system may commit fraud and theft. Authorized users are more likely to carry out such acts since they know what resources a system has andas well as the system’s security flaws. Malicious hackers (crackers) are individuals who break into a system without authorization, usually for personal gain or to do harm. Malicious hackers are generally individuals from outside of an agency or organization (although users within an agency or organization can be a threat as well). Such hackers may gain access to the wireless network access point by eavesdropping on wireless device communications. Theft of service occurs when an unauthorized user gains access to the network and consumes network resources Industrial and foreign espionage involves gathering proprietary data from corporations or intelligence information from governments through eavesdropping.

Security requirements include the following: Authenticity : A third party must be able to verify that the content of a message has not been changed in transit. Nonrepudiation : The origin or the receipt of a specific message must be verifiable by a third party. Accountability : The actions of an entity must be traceable uniquely to that entity.

Types of unauthorized access to company networks :Accidental Association Malicious Association Ad-Hoc Networks Non-Traditional Networks Identity Theft (MAC Spoofing) Man-In-The-Middle Attacks Denial of Service Network Injection

Threats in WLAN

Maintaining a secure wireless network and associated devices requires significant effort, resources, and vigilance and involves the following steps:
Maintaining a full understanding of the topology of the wireless network.

Labeling and keeping inventories of the fielded wireless and handheld devices. Creating backups of data frequently. Performing periodic security testing and assessment of the wireless network and applying patches and security enhancements. Performing ongoing, randomly timed security audits to monitor and track wireless and handheld devices. Monitoring the wireless industry for changes to standards

Specific threats and vulnerabilities to wireless networks and handheld devices include the following:
All the vulnerabilities that exist in a conventional wired network apply to wireless technologies. Malicious entities may gain unauthorized access to an agency’s computer network through wireless connections, bypassing any firewall protections. Sensitive information that is not encrypted or that is poorly encrypted and that is transmitted between two wireless devices may be intercepted and disclosed. DoS attacks may be directed at wireless connections or devices. Malicious entities may steal the identity of legitimate users and masquerade as them on internal or external corporate networks.

Sensitive data may be corrupted during improper synchronization. Malicious entities may be able to violate the privacy of legitimate users and be able to track their movements. Viruses or other malicious code may corrupt data on a wireless device and subsequently be introduced to a wired network connection. Malicious entities through wireless connections, connect to organizations for the purposes of launching attacks and concealing their activities. Interlopers, from inside or out, may be able to gain connectivity to network management controls and thereby disable or disrupt operations.

Malicious entities may use third-party, untrusted wireless network services to gain access to an agency’s or other organization’s network resources. Internal attacks may be possible via ad hoc transmissions. Malicious entities may deploy unauthorized equipment (e.g., client devices and access points) to surreptitiously gain access to sensitive information. Handheld devices are easily stolen and can reveal sensitive information. Data may be extracted without detection from improperly configured devices. Viruses or other malicious code may corrupt data on a wireless device and be subsequently introduced to a wired

set up that many users simply plug it in and start using the network without giving much thought to security. These are some tips for securing the wireless network.
Change the default administrative password Don't broadcast your SSID and Change the default SSID Enable WPA encryption instead of WEP Remember that WEP is better than nothing  Use MAC filtering for access control Reduce your WLAN transmitter power

Disable remote administration Use strong encryption Secure your wireless router or access point administration interface  Turn off the WAP when not in use Isolate the wireless network from the rest of the LAN Control the wireless signal Transmit on a different frequency


Until recently wireless local loops have been used only where the cost or difficulty of installing wire is prohibitive. Modern CDMA equipment makes wireless local loops practical in developing countries, in rural areas, and sometimes even for extra lines where wired service is already provided. The third generation of personal wireless systems will feature higher maximum data rates , greater capacity for voice calls, and the ability to work with a wide range of cell sizes and types. It may also be somewhat more standardized than the second generation. Both CDMA and TDMA systems appear likely to be part

Terrestrial microwave systems at 28GHz are beginning to be used to deliver television, internet and telephone services to individual residences. They will probably supplant an older one-way microwave system. Many people are expecting that the digitization of practically all communication systems will lead to a gradual convergence of systems, but it is doubtful whether this will actually happen in the near future. Safety and esthetic concerns could slow the development of wireless technology. The future of wireless seems assured, particularly in the areas of voice and low-speed data. Truly high-speed data may have to wait for some time for the fourth generation of wireless.

Many of us firmly believe that wireless technology is to computing what the PC was to computing back in the 80’s, nothing short of a revolution. On the other hand, just like many other emerging technologies before it, this one is not without its share of challenges. On one side, we have the visionaries, the evangelizers, preaching the benefits of mobile data access and, specifically, wireless connectivity. There are more than a few early adopters, who have successfully mobilized business applications and are reaping the benefits. On the other hand there are a few who are not so sure the promised return on investment is really there, or remain yet to be convinced that the technology is ready for their specific enterprise requirements. One of the problems with the whole wireless and mobility story is that in many cases technology objectives have overtaken business objectives.

As a result, wireless and mobility projects have been implemented without solid planning, business cases, proper cost/benefit analysis and obviously without executive management buying into or fully supporting the project. Many still think wireless and mobility is about devices and networks rather than systems integration. Without executive management support, projects are soon abandoned or, worse yet, crash and burn, with the associated casualties and personal embarrassment making big news. This situation has hampered the implementation of wireless and mobility solutions in areas that could have substantial benefits for corporations, institutions or the public at large.

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