Essence Of Security In Wireless Network Computer Science Essay

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The growing popularity of mobile hand in hand devices and growth of Wireless Network over the past few year. The main issue in a wireless networking is the susceptibility towards the data authentication , availability and scalability. In the paper we have used the various techniques which can help protect the wireless security issues The number of security solution have been proposed to protect the wireless resources, but all the techniques are not pretty much universal in all the cases .This entirely depend on the need of the infrastructure of the organisation. This paper particularly raised the known risks involves in this kind of networks and try to mitigate them. The possible weakness will facilitate the future study and comprehensive development adoption in the field. 2

Research Question:- 2

Aims and Objectives:- 3

Background :- 3

Literature Review:- 3

What is Wireless Networks ? 3

What is Wireless LANs? 4

Infrastructure mode 4

Ad Hoc Mode (Peer-to-Peer Workgroup) 4

Wireless Standards:- 4

Benefit of wireless network 5

Risks and threats for the wireless network 5

Methodology :- 6

How Wireless network work :- 6

Risks while Wireless Network and their mitigation:- 7

Reference :- 12

Title :- Essence of security in wireless network

Abstract :

The growing popularity of mobile hand in hand devices and growth of Wireless Network over the past few year. The main issue in a wireless networking is the susceptibility towards the data authentication , availability and scalability. In the paper we have used the various techniques which can help protect the wireless security issues The number of security solution have been proposed to protect the wireless resources, but all the techniques are not pretty much universal in all the cases .This entirely depend on the need of the infrastructure of the organisation. This paper particularly raised the known risks involves in this kind of networks and try to mitigate them. The possible weakness will facilitate the future study and comprehensive development adoption in the field.


Broadband wireless networks are a great step towards the Internet's eventual fate of interconnecting almost everything in the known universe. A wireless network generally combines two kinds of communication technology: data networks that make it possible to share information between computers, and radio (or wireless) communication that uses electromagnetic radiation to move information from one place to another. The earliest Wi-Fi systems provided a suitable way to connect a laptop computer to an office network and to connect computers to a home network without the use of cables between the rooms. In today's world, Wi-Fi and other broadband services permit most of the users to connect to the Internet. The objective of wirelessly exchanging network data using radio signals is achieved by a variety of products and services. The three most widely used systems are Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and 3G cellular service, each of these services has slightly altered set of features, and uses somewhat different technology.

Physical security is next to impossible for Wireless networks and therefore it is a very crucial for these networks to be properly secured. In a physically protected enterprise, it is difficult for an external invader to enter the office and secretly connect a laptop to the network. Using the wireless, the signals are transmit over the air which can be easily intercepted by an invader who is within range of the wireless signals. This makes the wireless security problem more challenging and appealing.

Wi-Fi is short for "Wireless Fidelity," and it is the popular name for 802.11-based technologies. Few years ago everyone used modems to dial into a server. Then, in the late 80's, early 90's, Ethernet was used. Recently, the wireless protocols were projected and in the last couple of years WiFi has become very common to network the multiple computers without the requirement to run wires to each computer. WiFi has much more flexibility. The 'base station' (called an access point or AP) can connect to multiple WiFi equipped computers.

Research Question:-

Essence of security in the wireless networks

Aims and Objectives:-

To make the participants understand the Network Security concepts & terminology. 

To provide understanding about vulnerabilities in existing networking infrastructure. 

To give information to participants related to Information security, Internet Security & Network Security to smooth the progress of secured communication through enterprise networking. 

To impart knowledge on prevention against attacks and other threats in a network or Internetwork.

To train the manpower in the area of Information and Network Security by imparting training (involving management modules, technical modules). 

To make the participants comprehend the Network Security concepts & terminology. 

To convey understanding about vulnerabilities in existing networking infrastructure 

To give information to participants relating to Information security, Internet Security & Network Security to aid secured communication through enterprise Networking. 

To impart knowledge on prevention against attacks and other threats in a network or Internetwork

Background :-

Literature Review:-

What is Wireless Networks ?

Wireless networks serve as the transport mechanism between devices and among devices and the traditional wired networks (enterprise networks and the Internet). Wireless networks are many and diverse but are frequently categorized into three groups based on their coverage range: Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWAN), WLANs, and Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN). WWAN includes wide coverage area technologies such as 2G cellular, Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD), Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), representing wireless local area networks, includes 802.11, Hiper LAN, and several others. WPAN represents wireless personal area network technologies such as Bluetooth and IR. All of these technologies uses electromagnetic (EM) waves. Wireless technologies use wavelengths ranging from the radio frequency (RF) band up to and above the IR band. The frequencies in the RF band cover a important segment of the EM radiation spectrum, extending from 9 kilohertz (kHz), the lowest allocated wireless communications frequency, to thousands of gigahertz (GHz). As soon as the frequency is increased further than the RF spectrum, EM energy moves into the IR and then the visible spectrum.

What is Wireless LANs?

WLANs provide more flexibility and portability than any conventional wired local area networks (LAN). A traditional LAN needs a wire to connect a user's computer to the network, whereas a WLAN connects computers and other devices to the network with the use of an access point device. An access point is the one which communicates with the devices equipped with wireless network adaptors. AP connects to a wired Ethernet LAN via an RJ-45 port. Access point devices generally have a coverage area of up to 300 feet. This coverage area is called a range. Within the range, the users can move about anywhere with their network device. Access point range can be connected together to permit users to even move about within a building or between buildings.

There are two modes used for the wireless LAN networks:-

Infrastructure mode

Ad- Hoc mode

Infrastructure mode

With the use of wireless access point, the wireless LAN operates in the infrastructure mode. This mode enables you to connect wirelessly to wireless network devices within a fixed range. The access point has one or more antennas that permit to interact with wireless nodes. In this infrastructure mode, the wireless access point converts airwave data into wired Ethernet data, acting as a bridge between the wired LAN and wireless clients. To further extend the wireless network coverage, one can connect multiple access points via a wired Ethernet backbone. If a mobile computing device goes out of the range of one access point, it moves into the range of another access point. Thus the wireless users can freely move from one access point domain to another maintaining seamless network connection.

Ad Hoc Mode (Peer-to-Peer Workgroup)

In the Ad Hoc mode of network, it has no structure or fixed point i.e. each of the individual nodes can be set up to communicate with any number of other nodes. In this configuration no access point is involved. The Ad Hoc mode permits you to swiftly set up a small wireless workgroup and allows workgroup members to exchange data or share printers. Ad hoc networking is also referred as peer-to-peer group networking. Network packets are generally directly sent and received by the intended transmitting and receiving stations. If all the work stations are within range of one another, this is the easiest and most cheap way to set up a wireless network.

Wireless Standards:-

Wireless technologies abide to a range of standards and offer varying levels of security features. The main advantages of standards are to promote large production and to allow products from multiple vendors to interoperate. WLANs follow the IEEE 802.11 standards. Ad hoc networks follow proprietary techniques or are based on the Bluetooth standard.

These standards are described below.

IEEE 802.11


Benefit of wireless network

Wireless broadband provides Internet access to mobile devices. It also permits network operators to expand their networks beyond the range of their wired connections.

First, wireless provides suitable access for moveable computers. It is not necessary to find a cable or network data outlet. Secondly, it enables a user to create a connection from number of locations and to maintain a connection as the user moves from one location to another. Thus, a wireless network connection is generally a lot more convenient than a wired one.

But wireless is not always the best choice. The security of a wired network is generally more than a wireless system because it is quite difficult for unauthorized people to observe information as it travels through the network. A wired link doesn't require as many complicated negotiations between the sender and receiver.

Risks and threats for the wireless network

A. Accidental association

Unauthorized access to a wireless network can be made from many different methods. One of the methods is known as "accidental association". On starting a computer if it latches on to a wireless access point from a nearby organisation's overlapping network, the user may not be even aware of this. In any case it is a security breach as another organisation's information is open to the elements since there is an existing connection from one organisation to the other.

B. Malicious association

"Malicious associations" occur when wireless devices are actively connected to an organisation's network through their cracking computer device instead of a company access point (AP). These types of computer device are known as "soft APs". These are produced when the cracker runs such software that makes his wireless network card appear like a genuine access point. When the cracker gains access, he can steal passwords, launch attacks on the wired network, or lodge Trojans. Since wireless networks work at the Layer-2 level, Layer-3 protections such as network authentication and virtual private networks (VPNs) propose no obstacle. Wireless 802.1x authentications do provide some protection but they are still susceptible to cracking. In most of the cases the cracker is just trying to take over the client at the Layer-2 level, and not to break into a VPN or any other security regions.

C. Ad-hoc network:

Ad-hoc networks may generally create a security threat. Ad-hoc networks are defined as peer-to-peer networks between wireless computers that do not have an access point in between them. Although these types of networks usually have very less protection, encryption methods may be used to offer security.

D. Non-traditional networks

Non-traditional networks such as personal network Bluetooth devices are not secure from cracking and should be considered as a security risk. Even barcode readers, handheld PDAs, and wireless printers and copiers should be secured. These non-traditional networks can be effortlessly ignored by IT personnel who have intently focused on laptops and access points.

E. Identity theft (MAC spoofing):

Identity theft (or MAC spoofing) can occur when a cracker is capable of listening in on network traffic and identify the MAC address of a computer with network rights. Most wireless systems allow some kind of MAC filtering to just allow authorized computers with specific MAC IDs to get access and make use of the network. There are such programs that have network "sniffing" abilities. The cracker can combine such programs with other software that permit a computer to act as if it has any MAC address. Thus the cracker can easily get around that problem.

F. Man-in-the-middle attacks

A man-in-the-middle attacker enables computers to log into a computer which is set up as a soft AP (Access Point). The hacker then connects to a real access point through another wireless card presenting a fixed flow of traffic through the transparent hacking computer to the real network. The hacker can then sniff the traffic. One type of man-in-the-middle attack depends on security leaks. This attack compels AP-connected computers to leave their connections and reconnect with the cracker's soft AP. Man-in-the-middle attacks are helped by software such as LANjack and AirJack, which mechanize multiple steps of the process. Hotspots are particularly vulnerable to any attack since there is little to no security on these networks.

G. Denial of service

A Denial-of-Service attack (DoS) takes place when an attacker continually bombards a targeted AP (Access Point) or network with fake requests, premature successful connection messages, failure messages, and/or other commands. These cause legal users to be unable to get on the network and may even make the network to crash. These attacks depend on the abuse of protocols such as the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP).

Methodology :-

How Wireless network work :-

Moving data through a wireless network involves three seprate elements , the radio signals, the data format, and network structure. Each of these elements is independent of the other two, so you must define all three when you invent a new network. In terms of the OSI reference model, the radio signal operates at the physical layer, and the data format controls several of the higher layers. The network structure includes the wireless network interface adapters and base stations that send and receive the radio signals. In a wireless network, the network interface adapters in each computer and base station convert digital data to radio signals, which they transmit to other devices on the same network, and they receive and convert incoming radio signals from other network elements back to digital data. Each of the broadband wireless data services use a different combination of radio signals, data formats, and network structure.

Risks while Wireless Network and their mitigation:-

1. Insufficient policies, training and awareness 

Sometimes the organisations fall short to establish policies governing wireless networks or may fail to notify employees of the risks related with not using a wireless network according to the policies. As soon as the policies are implemented, it's important to communicate them to increase users' knowledge and understanding. 

Mitigation: - 

The organisation should create the detailed policies and procedures concerning wireless devices and usage. It is also important to maintain these policies and procedures to keep up to date with technology and trends of the time. Every organisation will have definite needs; but at least they require the registration of all WLANs as part of overall security strategy. Since a policy is not effective until users compliance with them, the network should be monitored to make sure that users follow the policy as proposed. 

Company should arrange customary security awareness and training sessions. A well-informed user is more likely to be a compliant one. The education sessions should stress the importance of awareness. 

2. Access constraints 

Wireless access points repeatedly send out signals to announce themselves so that users can find them to instigate connectivity. This signal transmission occurs when 802.11 beacon frames containing the access points' Service Set Identifier are released unencrypted. (SSIDs are names or descriptions used to differentiate networks from one another.) This can make it effortless for unauthorized users to learn the network name and attempt an attack or invasion. 


Organisation should enable available safety features. As the embedded security features are disabled by default. Default SSIDs are set by the manufacturer. If these SSIDs names are not changed then it becomes easier for an unauthorized user to achieve access. One should use long and meaningless strings of characters, including letters, numbers and symbols. The administrator should disable Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol which automatically provides access to everyone authorised or not. Instead static IP addresses should be used. Encrypt the SSID and the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) key that are typically stored in the Windows registry file. Moving these privileged files makes it more difficult for a hacker to acquire private information. This step averts an unauthorized interference and can also delay the interference till it can be detected.

Using a closed network, users would have to type the SSID into the client application and not just select the SSID from a list. This creates a bit more difficultly for the user to achieve access. Maximum advantage of a closed network can be achieved by changing the SSID frequently so that the employees who no longer work with the organisation can't access the network. The authorised users need to be informed of the new SSID regularly.

Track employees who have WLANs at home or at a remote site. Require that wireless networks are placed behind the main routed interface so the institution can shut them off if necessary. If WLANs are being used at home, require specific security configurations, including encryption and virtual private network (VPN) tunneling.

3. Rogue access points 

Rogue access points are the ones that can be installed by users without any coordination with the IT officer. Installations of these rogue access points are economical and easy to install, rogue installations are becoming more common. 

Rogue access points are generally poorly configured and may permit traffic that can be difficult for intrusion-detection software to identify. 


Widespread site surveys should be frequently carried out to find out the location of all access points. One should make sure that none of the access points is near the interfering appliances such as microwave ovens, elevators or furniture.

Access-point coverage should be radiated out toward windows, but not beyond. Directional antennas should be provided for wireless devices to control the radio frequency range and avoid unauthorized access. Only those access points that have "flashable" firmware should be used so that the users can install security patches and upgrades in future releases. Passwords for Simple Network Management Protocol, which is used as an access-point management mechanism, should be disabled on all access points. SNMP is, and while it offers operational efficiencies, it increases the risk of security intrusions.

Authentication method should be kept open rather than to shared encryption key. When shared encryption key feature is used, the challenge text is sent in clear text which helps an unauthorized person to estimate the shared secret key using the encrypted adaptation of the same text. So using the default open authentication actually reduces the likelihood of unauthorized users to discover WEP encryption key.

Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service can be used as an additional authentication step. RADIUS can be built into an access point or provided through a separate server. This authentication server can be interfaced to a user database. This ensures that the requesting user is authorized.

4. Traffic analysis and eavesdropping 

Without actually gaining access to the network, unauthorized users can submissively get hold of the private data travelling in the network via airwaves and can easily read it because it's sent in clear text. The attacker can alter a genuine message or can monitor transmissions and retransmit messages as an authorised user. 

WLANs relay unencrypted or poorly encrypted messages with the use WEP over the airwaves that can be effortlessly detected or altered.

Mitigation: - 

All the traffic over the WLAN can be encrypted. Use application encryption such as Pretty Good Privacy, Secure Shell (SSH) or Secure Sockets Layer. Enable WEP which provides security equivalent to wired network but that has been proved to be insecure. In spite of its weaknesses, the WEP security built into wireless LANs can delay an unauthorized user's intrusion or possibly prevent a new hacker's attacks entirely.

A VPN that runs at least FIPS-141 triple Data Encryption Standard and encrypts all traffic, and not just the ID and password should be used. Whole of the wireless network traffic should be sectioned at the back a firewall. Each client should be configured with a VPN client to tunnel the data to a VPN concentrator on the wired network. Number of features should be evaluated while buying VPN technologies: interoperability with present infrastructure, support for a wireless and dial-up networking, packet-filtering firewall, automatic security updates and a centralized management console. For the users who are accessing critical infrastructure, a two-factor authentication scheme using access tokens should be implemented. Make use of 802.11x for key management and authentication standards. Activate the Broadcast Key Rotation functionality. A particular amount of time on the access point should be set; so as and when the counter runs out, the access point sends a new WEP key, encrypt it with the old. This action decreases the amount of time on hand to crack the key.

5. Insufficient network performance 

Wireless LANs have limited transmission capacity. Media Access Control alone uses around half of the normal bit rate. Capacity is shared by all the users connected with an access point. As he load balancing doesn't exist on access points, network performance is enhanced if the appropriate numbers of access points are available to users. 

Normally, unauthorized users' intent to nick the bandwidth, than just to look at or alter the data passing along the wireless network. These people can reduce the network performance considerably. DoS attack can disable or interrupt the ongoing activities.

A DoS can also happen when genuine traffic uses the identical radio channel. A DoS can also be an intentional overflow for example in the form of a ping flood to create intentional network disruptions. 


Continually monitor network performance and investigate any anomalies immediately. Segment the access point's coverage areas to reduce the number of people using each access point. Apply a traffic-shaping solution to allow administrators to proactively manage traffic rather than react to irregularities.

6. Hacker attacks 

Because wireless networks are insecure, they're prone to attacks. Such attacks can include spreading viruses, loss of confidentiality and data integrity, data extraction without detection, privacy violations and identity theft. 


Deploy a network-based intrusion-detection system on the wireless network; review logs weekly. Use and maintain antivirus software. Push out antivirus software upgrades to clients from servers. Create frequent backups of data and perform periodic restorations.

7. MAC spoofing/session hijacking 

Wireless 802.11 networks don't authenticate frames, which may result in frames being altered, authorized sessions being hijacked or authentication credentials being stolen by an imposter. Therefore, the data contained within their frames can't be assured to be authentic, since there's no protection against forgery of frame source addresses. 

Because attackers can observe Media Access Control addresses of stations in use on the network, they can adopt those addresses for malicious transmission. Finally, station addresses, not the users themselves, are identified. That's not a strong authentication technique, and it can be compromised by an unauthorized party. 


Limit access to specific MAC addresses that are filtered via a firewall. This technique isn't completely secure, because MAC addresses can be duped, but it does improve the overall security strategy. Another difficulty with this technique is the maintenance effort required. A MAC address is tied to a hardware device, so every time an authorized device is added to or removed from the network, the MAC address has to be registered into the database. Monitor logs weekly and scan critical host logs daily. Use proven data link layer cryptography such as SSH, Transport-Level Security or IPsec.

8. Physical security deficiencies 

Commonly used wireless and handheld devices such as PDAs, laptops and access points are easy to lose or to steal because of their small size and portability. In the event of a theft, the unauthorized party can compromise such devices to obtain proprietary information about your wireless network configuration. 


Physical security controls, including barriers and guards should be implemented to avert the burglary of equipment and unauthorized access. Label and maintain inventories of all fielded wireless and handheld devices. Device-independent authentication should be used so that lost or stolen devices can't gain access to the WLAN.


The high-risk nature of WLANs becomes quite evident. To reduce the consequence of these risks, management and systems administrators must carry out ongoing risk assessments to make sure that they realize the risks that they face, and also take suitable steps to diminish the risks. 

The utmost weakness with wireless security is the out-of-the-box insecure installations. This can be overcome if attention is given to detail. One of the important risks needed to be considered is the man power working on the company networking. Thus while appointing a network administrator and funding suitable review procedures special care should be taken. 

Risks provide chance that just needs to be managed. It's a motivation for development and should be a welcome challenge, as long as it's given the appropriate reflection.