WLAN Threats CCNA
WLAN Threats CCNA

WLAN Threats

WLAN Threats
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Summary

This topic describe threats to WLANs. Start learning CCNA 200-301 for free right now!!

Note: Welcome: This topic is part of Module 12 of the Cisco CCNA 2 course, for a better follow up of the course you can go to the CCNA 2 section to guide you through an order.

Video – WLAN Threats

The previous topics covered the WLAN components and configuration. Here you will learn about WLAN threats.

Click Play to view a video about threats to WLANs.

Wireless Security Overview

A WLAN is open to anyone within range of an AP and the appropriate credentials to associate to it. With a wireless NIC and knowledge of cracking techniques, an attacker may not have to physically enter the workplace to gain access to a WLAN.

Attacks can be generated by outsiders, disgruntled employees, and even unintentionally by employees. Wireless networks are specifically susceptible to several threats, including:

  • Interception of data – Wireless data should be encrypted to prevent it from being read by eavesdroppers.
  • Wireless intruders – Unauthorized users attempting to access network resources can be deterred through effective authentication techniques.
  • Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks – Access to WLAN services can be compromised either accidentally or maliciously. Various solutions exist depending on the source of the DoS attack.
  • Rogue APs – Unauthorized APs installed by a well-intentioned user or for malicious purposes can be detected using management software.

DoS Attacks

DoS Attacks
DoS Attacks

Wireless DoS attacks can be the result of:

  • Improperly configured devices – Configuration errors can disable the WLAN. For instance, an administrator could accidently alter a configuration and disable the network, or an intruder with administrator privileges could intentionally disable a WLAN.
  • A malicious user intentionally interfering with the wireless communication – Their goal is to disable the wireless network completely or to the point where no legitimate device can access the medium.
  • Accidental interference – WLANs are prone to interference from other wireless devices including microwave ovens, cordless phones, baby monitors, and more, as shown in the figure. The 2.4 GHz band is more prone to interference than the 5 GHz band.

Rogue Access Points

A rogue AP is an AP or wireless router that has been connected to a corporate network without explicit authorization and against corporate policy. Anyone with access to the premises can install (maliciously or non-maliciously) an inexpensive wireless router that can potentially allow access to a secure network resource.

Once connected, the rogue AP can be used by an attacker to capture MAC addresses, capture data packets, gain access to network resources, or launch a man-in-the-middle attack.

A personal network hotspot could also be used as a rogue AP. For example, a user with secure network access enables their authorized Windows host to become a Wi-Fi AP. Doing so circumvents the security measures and other unauthorized devices can now access network resources as a shared device.

To prevent the installation of rogue APs, organizations must configure WLCs with rogue AP policies, as shown in the figure, and use monitoring software to actively monitor the radio spectrum for unauthorized APs.

Rogue Access Points
Rogue Access Points

Man-in-the-Middle Attack

In a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, the hacker is positioned in between two legitimate entities in order to read or modify the data that passes between the two parties. There are many ways in which to create a MITM attack.

A popular wireless MITM attack is called the “evil twin AP” attack, where an attacker introduces a rogue AP and configures it with the same SSID as a legitimate AP, as shown in the figure. Locations offering free Wi-Fi, such as airports, cafes, and restaurants, are particularly popular spots for this type of attack due to the open authentication.

Man-in-the-Middle Attack
Man-in-the-Middle Attack

Wireless clients attempting to connect to a WLAN would see two APs with the same SSID offering wireless access. Those near the rogue AP find the stronger signal and most likely associate with it. User traffic is now sent to the rogue AP, which in turn captures the data and forwards it to the legitimate AP, as shown in the figure. Return traffic from the legitimate AP is sent to the rogue AP, captured, and then forwarded to the unsuspecting user. The attacker can steal the user’s passwords, personal information, gain access to their device, and compromise the system.

evil twin AP attack
evil twin AP attack

Defeating an attack like an MITM attack depends on the sophistication of the WLAN infrastructure and the vigilance in monitoring activity on the network. The process begins with identifying legitimate devices on the WLAN. To do this, users must be authenticated. After all of the legitimate devices are known, the network can be monitored for abnormal devices or traffic.

Glossary: If you have doubts about any special term, you can consult this computer network dictionary.

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