Securing wireless access points: WLAN DoS attacks, MAC address vulnerabilities

This portion of the Vines penetration testing tip on securing wireless access points describes WLAN denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and MAC address vulnerabilities.

WLAN denial-of-service (DoS) attacks

Wireless networks are vulnerable to DoS attacks due to the nature of the wireless transmission medium. WLANs send information via radio waves on public frequencies, thus they are susceptible to an advertent or deliberate interference from traffic using the same radio band.

If an attacker makes use of a powerful transceiver, enough interference can be generated to prevent wireless devices from communicating with one another. DoS attack devices do not have to be right next to the devices being attacked, either; they need only to be within range of the wireless transmissions.

Examples of techniques used to deny service to a wireless device are:

  • Requests for authentication at such a frequency as to disrupt legitimate traffic.

  • Requests for deauthentication of legitimate users. These requests may not be refused according to the current 802.11 standard.

  • Mimics the behavior of an access point and convinces unsuspecting clients to communicate with it.

  • Repeatedly transmits RTS/CTS frames to silence the network.

MAC address vulnerabilities

MAC addresses are easily sniffed by an attacker since they must appear in the clear even in when WEP is enabled. An attacker can masquerade as a valid MAC address by programming the wireless card, to enter the wireless network.

Spoofing MAC address is also very easy. Using packet capturing software, an attacker can determine a valid MAC address by setting up a rogue access point near the target wireless network

Penetration testing -- Securing wireless access points

  War walking and war driving
  WLAN vulnerabilities, SSID issues, WEP weakness
 WLAN DoS attacks, MAC address vulnerabilities
  Wireless testing tools
  WLAN security countermeasures

About the author
Russell Dean Vines is a bestselling author, Chief Security Advisor for Gotham Technology Group, LLC, and former President of the RDV Group. His most recent book is
The CISSP and CAP Prep Guide, published by John S. Wiley and Sons.

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