802.11 wireless network attacks: Prevent them on customers' networks

In order to stop wireless network attacks on behalf of your customers, you must understand wireless network attacks. This chapter excerpt examines 802.11 attacks, including the TJX security breach, and how WEP, WPA and WPA2 can be cracked.


Solution provider takeaway: To protect your customers' wireless networks, you must first be able to understand the dangers -- wireless network attacks. This chapter examines 802.11 attacks and provides an in-depth analysis of the TJX security breach, as well as how hackers can make their way into wireless infrastructures.

Download a .pdf of "802.11 wireless infrastructure attacks" from Seven Deadliest Wireless Technologies Attacks by Brad Haines.

802.11 wireless network attacks

Wireless is a term thrown about quite a bit lately. Everything seems to be wireless to one degree or another, even some things no one ever expected to be, like refrigerators and other appliances. Most often, when the term wireless is used in regard to computing, it's to do with 802.11 networks.

Just about every new laptop that hits the market today has an 802.11 network card built in. It's a technology that has become ubiquitous, and we can hardly remember a time when it wasn't part of our lives. It's a technology that has grown in terms of speed and range to provide the capability to connect us to the Internet from anywhere in our homes or businesses.

This widespread technology would also very quickly become quite an issue from a security perspective. Users quickly demanded to "cut the cable" and be able to access the network from anywhere in the office. Home users were quick to adopt the technology to work from the kitchen, the couch, or (more oddly) the bathroom. This intense push led to a lot of overworked and underpaid information technology (IT) administrators and neighborhood computer know-it-alls installing wireless networks without properly understanding the security risks involved. These early networks would continue to "just work," with users not realizing that the security arms race caught up with them and even passed them, making them prime targets for attack.

Information in this chapter

  • How wireless networks work
  • Case study: TJX Corporation
  • Understanding WEP cracking
  • How to crack WEP
  • It gets better and worse
  • WPA and WPA2 in a nutshell
  • How to crack WPA PSK and WPA2 PSK

Download a .pdf of "802.11 wireless infrastructure attacks" from Seven Deadliest Wireless Technologies Attacks by Brad Haines.

Printed with permission from Syngress, a division of Elsevier. Copyright 2010. www.syngress.com.

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