WLAN Threats

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

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.

signals radiating from a cordless phone and a microwave are interfering with signals on a wireless network


Secure WLANs