Todays View On Wireless Lan Security Computer Science Essay

Abstract- Wireless Local Area Network ( WLAN ) has been used to a great extent in legion Sectors. Due to its omnipresent nature, defects in WLAN have become apparent particularly in the country of security. Introductions to WLAN ‘s constructs, constituents and architecture have been used to demo this exposure and we look at how security issues has affected the radio LAN web and the development of new criterions that have being designed to salve the security issues such as eavesdropping, Spied web communicating, service denial and highjacking of session.

Keywords: WLAN, Network Security.


WLAN is omnipresent because of its easy installing procedure, ability to link nomadic devices like laptops and smart phones, pull offing nodes with easiness, and the easiness of linking devices built utilizing changing engineerings. WLANs provide communicating over wireless frequences and this could in the signifier of infrared or other wireless signals. Unlike cabled webs which have infinite limitation. WLAN does non necessitate any physical connexion. It fundamentally requires a wireless web interface card ( NIC ) on the nodes and entree point ( s ) to link to a web.

Security in WLAN involves privateness and control of entree. A cardinal advantage of utilizing WLAN constituents is its execution ; it besides allows mobility and flexibleness, though its primary back bone connexion is still wired. A 25-mile scope was set as the criterion for bridging connexions between edifices.

Two cardinal constituents for every radio web are the entree and client adapters/network interface cards ( NICs ) . The entree point connects both wired web ( via Ethernet overseas telegrams ) and wireless web ( via aerial ) . Some entree points are double set which supports 2.4 and 5 GHZ Technologies and other support merely individual set. The NIC fundamentally allow assorted radio nodes to a radio web.

WLAN Architecture

This Wireless Local Area Network ( WLAN ) architecture must closely incorporate WLANs with the bing LAN architecture and must adhere to the architecture rules.

The WLAN architecture are classified into Wireless LAN Stations, Basic Service Set, Extended Service Set, Distributed Systems

Wireless LAN Stations

Wireless LAN Stations are referred to wireless medium in a web that connects all the constituents mentioned above. All Wireless LAN Stationss are equipped with wireless web interface cards ( WNICs ) .Wireless Stationss are classified into two classs: entree points and clients.

Basic-service set

The basic service set ( BSS ) – A set of Stationss that communicate with each other. Every BSS has designation ( ID ) called the BSSID and which is the MAC addressing of the entree point serving the BSS.

There are two types of BSS: Independent BSS and Infrastructure BSS.

1.1 Independent basic service set

An independent basic service set ( BSS ) is an ad-hoc web and it is the simplest WLAN constellation. And that contains no entree points, which means they can non link to any other basic service set. If two or more wireless arrangers are within the same scope so independent basic service set can be set up. Figure 1 shows the architecture of Independent WLAN.

Figure 1: Mugwump WLAN [ 12 ] .

Infrastructure basic service set

An substructure basic service set BSS can pass on with other Stationss by agencies of entree points. This architecture satisfies the Large Scale Networks need. Distribution System ( such as Ethernet ) combined with Access Points that enable rolling through out its service. Figure 2 shows the architecture of Infrastructure WLAN.

Figure 2: Infrastructure WLAN [ 12 ] .

Drawn-out Service Set

An drawn-out service set ( ESS ) is a set of affiliated BSS ‘s and Access points in an ESS are connected by a distribution system. Each ESS has an Identification ( ID ) called the SSID which is a 32-byte ( maximal ) character twine.

Distribution System

A distribution system connects entree points in an drawn-out service set.

Types of radio LANs:

Peer-to-Peer or ad-hoc radio LAN


Wireless distribution system

WLAN Security Threats

Despite the Ease of Installation, Mobility, Owner-Ship Cost Reduction, Flexibility and Scalability advantage that WLAN offers, the informations transmitted are broadcast over the air with wireless moving ridges this may do hazard where the web can be hacked. The three chief menaces are Denial of Service, Spoofing, and Eavesdropping.

1. Denial of Service

In this sort of onslaught, the interloper floods the web with either valid or invalid messages impacting the handiness of the web resources. Due to the nature of the wireless transmittal, the WLAN are really vulnerable against denial of service onslaughts. The comparatively low spot rates of WLAN can easy be overwhelmed and leave them unfastened to denial of service onslaughts [ 9 ] . By utilizing a powerful plenty transceiver, wireless intervention can easy be generated that would unable WLAN to pass on utilizing radio way.

2.Spoofing and Session Hijacking

This is where the aggressor could derive entree to favor informations and resources in the web by presuming the individuality of a valid user. This happens because 802.11 webs do non authenticate the beginning reference, which is Medium Access Control ( MAC ) reference of the frames. Attackers may therefore spoof MAC references and highjack Sessionss.

Furthermore, 802.11 does non necessitate an Access Point to turn out it is really an AP. This facilitates aggressors who may masquerade as AP ‘s [ 9 ] . In extinguishing spoofing, proper hallmark and entree control

mechanisms need to be placed in the WLAN.

3 Eavesdropping

This involves attack against the confidentiality of the information that is being transmitted across the web. By their nature, radio LANs deliberately radiates web traffic into infinite. This makes it impossible

to command who can have the signals in any radio LAN installing. In the radio web, eavesdropping by the 3rd parties is the most

important menace because the aggressor can stop the transmittal over the air from a distance, off from the premiss of the company.

Wired Equivalent Privacy

Wired Equivalent Privacy ( WEP ) is a standard encoding for radio networking. It is a user hallmark and informations encoding system from IEEE 802.11 used to get the better of the security menaces. Basically, WEP provides security to WLAN by

coding the information transmitted over the air, so that merely the receiving systems who have the right encoding key can decode the information. The undermentioned subdivision explains the proficient functionality of WEP as the chief security protocol

for WLAN.

How WEP Works?

When deploying WLAN, it is of import to understand the ability of WEP to better security. This subdivision describes how WEP maps accomplish the degree of privateness as in a wired LAN [ 16 ] . WEP uses a pre-established shared secret key called the base key, the RC4 encoding algorithm and the CRC-32 ( Cyclic Redundancy Code ) checksum algorithm as its basic edifice blocks. WEP supports up to four different base keys, identified by Key IDs 0 thorough 3. Each of these basal keys is a group key called a default key, intending that the base keys are shared among all the members of a peculiar radio web. Some executions besides support a

set of unidentified per-link keys called key-mapping keys. However, this is less common in first coevals merchandises, because it implies the being of a key

direction installation, which WEP does non specify. The WEP specification does non allow the usage of both key-mapping keys and default keys at the same time,

and most deployments portion a individual default cardinal across all of the 802.11 devices.

WEP attempts to accomplish its security end in a really simple manner. It operates on MAC Protocol Data Units ( MPDUs ) , the 802.11 package fragments. To protect the information in an MPDU, WEP foremost computes an unity cheque value ( ICV ) over to the MPDU information. This is the CRC-32 of the information. WEP appends the ICV to the terminal of the informations, turning this field by four bytes. The ICV allows the receiving system to observe if

information has been corrupted in flight or the package is an straight-out counterfeit. Following, WEP selects a base key and an low-level formatting vector ( IV ) , which is a 24-bit value. WEP constructs a per-packet RC4 key by concatenating the IV value and the selected shared basal key. WEP so uses the per-packet key to RC4, and code both the informations and the ICV. The IV and KeyID placing the selected key are encoded as a four-byte twine and pre-pended to the encrypted informations. Figure 4 depicts a WEP-encoded MPDU

Figure 4: WEP-encoded MPDU [ 16 ] .

The IEEE 802.11 criterion defines the WEP base key size as consisting of 40 spots, so the per-packet cardinal consists of 64 spots once it is combined with the IV.

Many in the 802.11 community one time believed that little cardinal size was a security job, so some sellers modified their merchandises to back up a 104-bit base key every bit good. This difference in cardinal length does non do any different in the overall security. An aggressor can compromise its privateness ends with comparable attempt regardless of the cardinal size used. This is due to the exposure of the WEP building which will be discussed in the following subdivision.

Failings of WEP

WEP has undergone much examination and unfavorable judgment that it may be compromised.

What makes WEP vulnerable? The major WEP defects can be summarized into three classs [ 17 ] :

1.No counterfeit protection

There is no counterfeit protection provided by WEP. Even without cognizing the encoding key, an antagonist can alter 802.11 packages in arbitrary,

undetectable ways, deliver informations to unauthorised parties, and masquerades an authorised user. Even worse, an antagonist can besides larn more about the encoding key with counterfeit onslaughts than with strictly inactive onslaughts.

2 No protection against rematchs

WEP does non offer any protection once more rematchs. An adversary can make counterfeits without altering any informations in an bing package, merely by entering WEP packages and so retransmitting later. Replay, a particular type of counterfeit onslaught, can be used to deduce information about the encoding key and the informations it protects.

3 Recycling low-level formatting vectors

By recycling low-level formatting vectors, WEP enables an aggressor to decode the encrypted information without the demand to larn the encoding key or even fall backing to hi-tech techniques. While frequently dismissed as excessively slow, a patient aggressor can compromise the encoding of an full web after merely a few hours of informations aggregation. A study done by a squad at the University of California ‘s computing machine scientific discipline

Department [ 2 ] presented the insecurity of WEP which expose WLAN to several types of security breaches. The ISAAC ( Internet Security, Applications,

Authentication and Cryptography ) squad which released the study quantifies two types of failings in WEP. The first failing emphasizes on restrictions of the Initialization Vector ( IV ) . The value of the IV frequently depends on how vendor chose to implement it because the original 802.11 protocol did non stipulate how this value is derived. The 2nd failing concerns on RC4 ‘s Integrity Check Value ( ICV ) , a CRC-32 checksum that is used to verify whether the contents of a frame have been modified in theodolite. At the clip of encoding, this value is added to the terminal of the frame. As the receiver decrypts the package, the checksum is used to formalize the information. Because the ICV is non encrypted, nevertheless, it is theoretically possible to alter the informations warhead every bit long as you can deduce the appropriate spots to alter in the ICV every bit good. This means informations can be tampered and falsified.

Practical Solutions for Securing WLAN

Despite the hazards and exposures associated with radio networking, there are surely fortunes that demand their use. Even with the WEP defects, it is still possible for users to procure their WLAN to an acceptable degree. This could be done by implementing the undermentioned actions to minimise onslaughts into the chief webs [ 5 ] :

1.Changing Default SSID

Service Set Identifier ( SSID ) is a alone identifier attached to the heading of packages sent over a WLAN that acts as a watchword when a nomadic device attempts to link to a peculiar WLAN. The SSID differentiates one Wireless local area network from another, so all entree points and all devices trying to link to a specific WLAN must utilize the same SSID. In fact, it is the lone security mechanism that the entree point requires to enable association in the absence of triping optional security characteristics. Not altering the

default SSID is one of the most common security errors made by WLAN decision makers. This is tantamount to go forthing a default watchword in topographic point.

2. Use VPN

A VPN is a much more comprehensive solution in a manner that it authenticates users coming from an un sure infinite and code their communicating so that person listening can non stop it. Wireless AP is placed behind the corporate firewall within a typical radio execution. This type of execution opens up a large hole within the sure web infinite. A unafraid method of implementing a radio AP is to put it behind a VPN waiter. This type of execution provides high security for the radio web execution without

adding important operating expense to the users. If there is more than one radio AP in the organisation, it is recommended to run them all into a common switch, so linking the VPN waiter to the same switch.

Then, the desktop users will non necessitate to hold multiple VPN dial-up connexions configured on their desktops. They will ever be authenticating to the same VPN waiter no affair which wireless AP they have associated with [ 10 ] . Figure 5 shows secure method of implementinga radio AP.

Figure 5: Procuring a radio AP [ 10 ] .

3. Use Inactive IP

By default, most wireless LANs utilize DHCP ( Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol ) to more expeditiously assign IP addresses automatically to user

devices. A job is that DHCP does non distinguish a legitimate user from a hacker. With a proper SSID, anyone implementing DHCP will obtain an IP reference automatically and go a echt node on the web. By disenabling DHCP and delegating inactive IP references to all radio users, you can minimise the possibility of the hacker obtaining a

valid IP reference. This limits their ability to entree web services. On the other manus, person can utilize an 802.11 package analyser to whiff the exchange of frames over the web and larn what IP references are in usage. This helps the interloper in thinking what IP reference to utilize that falls within the scope of 1s in usage. Therefore, the usage of inactive IP references is non

sap cogent evidence, but at least it is a hindrance. Besides keep in head that the usage of inactive IP references in larger webs is really cumbrous, which may

prompt web directors to utilize DHCP to avoid support issues.

4. Access Point Placement

WLAN entree points should be placed outside the firewall to protect interlopers from accessing corporate web resources. Firewall can be configured to enable entree merely by legitimate users based on MAC and IP references. However, this is by no means a concluding or perfect solution because MAC and IP references can be spoofed even though this makes it hard for a hacker to mime.

5. Minimize wireless moving ridge extension in non-user countries Try pointing aerials to avoid covering countries outside the physically controlled boundaries of the installation. By maneuvering clear of public countries, such

as parking tonss, anterooms, and next offices, the ability for an interloper to take part on the radio LAN can be significantly reduced. This will besides

minimise the impact of person disenabling the radio LAN with jammingtechniques.

New Standards for Improving WLAN Security

Apart from all of the actions in minimising onslaughts to WLAN mentioned in the old subdivision, we will besides look at some new criterions that intend to better

the security of WLAN. There are two of import criterions that will be discussed in this paper: 802.1x and 802.11i. 5.1 802.1x. One of the criterions is 802.1x which was originally designed for wired Ethernet

webs. This criterion is besides portion of the 802.11i criterion that will be discussed subsequently. The undermentioned treatment of 802.1x is divided into three parts, get downing with the construct of Point-to-Point Protocol ( PPP ) , followed by Extensile Authentication Protocol ( EAP ) , and continues with the apprehension of 802.1xitself.


The Point-to-Point Protocol ( PPP ) originally emerged as an encapsulation protocol for transporting IP traffic over point-to-point links. PPP besides established a criterion for the assignment and direction of IP

references, asynchronous ( start/stop ) and bit-oriented synchronal encapsulation, web protocol multiplexing, nexus constellation, link quality testing, mistake sensing, and option dialogue for such capablenesss as network-layer reference dialogue and data-compression dialogue [ 11 ] . By any step, PPP is a good protocol. However, as PPP use grew,

people rapidly found its restriction in footings of security. Most corporate webs want to make more than simple usernames and watchwords for unafraid entree [ 13 ] . This leads to the appellation of a new hallmark protocol, called Extensile Authentication Protocol ( EAP ) .

2. EAP

The Extensile Authentication Protocol ( EAP ) is a general hallmark protocol defined in IETF ( Internet Engineering Task Force ) criterions. It

was originally developed for usage with PPP. It is an hallmark protocol that provides a generalised model for several hallmark mechanisms [ 15 ] . These include Kerberos, public key, smart cards and erstwhile watchwords. With a standardised EAP, interoperability and compatibility across hallmark methods become simpler. For illustration, when user dials a distant entree waiter ( RAS ) and utilize EAP as portion of the PPP connexion, the RAS does non necessitate to cognize any of the inside informations about the hallmark system. Merely the user and the hallmark server have to be coordinated. By back uping EAP hallmark, RAS waiter does non actively take part in the hallmark duologue. Alternatively, RAS merely re-packages EAP packages to manus

away to a RADIUS waiter to do the existent hallmark determination [ 13 ] .

How does EAP associate to 802.1x? The following subdivision will explicate the relation.5.1.3 802.1x IEEE 802.1x relates to EAP in a manner that it is a criterion for transporting EAP over a wired LAN or WLAN. There are four of import entities that explain this standard [ 18 ] .

i. Appraiser

Appraiser is the entity that requires the entity on the other terminal of the nexus to be authenticated. An illustration is wireless entree points.

two. Prayer

Prayer is the entity being authenticated by the Authenticator and wanting entree to the services of the Authenticator.

three. Port Access Entity ( PAE )

It is the protocol entity associated with a port. It may back up the functionality of Authenticator, Supplicant or both.

four. Authentication Server

Authentication waiter is an entity that provides hallmark service to the Authenticator. It possibly co-located with Authenticator, but it is most likely an external waiter. It is typically a Radius

( Distant Access Dial In User Service ) waiter.

The prayer and hallmark waiter are the major parts of 802.1x.

Figure 6 below shows the general topology of the above mentioned entities:

Figure 6: General topology of 802.1x constituents [ 18 ] .

EAP messages are encapsulated in Ethernet LAN packages ( EAPOL ) to let communications between the prayer and the appraiser. The following are the most common manners of operation in EAPOL [ 13 ] :

I. The appraiser sends an “ EAP-Request/Identity ” package to the prayer every bit shortly as it detects that the nexus is active.

two. Then, the suppliant sends an “ EAP-Response/Identity ” package to the appraiser, which is so passed to the hallmark ( RADIUS ) waiter.

three. Following, the hallmark waiter sends back a challenge to the appraiser, with a item watchword system. The appraiser unpacks this from IP and repackages it into EAPOL and sends it to the prayer. Different hallmark methods will change this message and the entire figure of messages. EAP supports client-only hallmark and strong common hallmark. Merely strong common hallmark is considered appropriate for the

radio instance.

four. The suppliant responds to the challenge via the

appraiser and passes the response onto the

hallmark waiter. If the prayer provides proper individuality, the hallmark waiter responds with a success message, which is so passed to the prayer. The appraiser now allows entree to the LAN, which perchance was restricted based on properties that came back from the hallmark waiter. 5.2 802.11i In add-on to 802.1x criterion created by IEEE, one energetic 802.11x

specification, which is 802.11i, provides replacing engineering for WEP security. 802.11i is still in the development and blessing procedures. In this paper,

the cardinal proficient elements that have been defined by the specification will be discussed. While these elements might alter, the information provided will

supply penetration into some of the alterations that 802.11i promises to present to heighten the security characteristics provided in a WLAN system. The 802.11i specification consists of three chief pieces organized into two beds [ 4 ] . On the upper bed is the 802.1x, which has been discussed in the old subdivision. As used in 802.11i, 802.1x provides a model for robust user hallmark and encoding cardinal distribution. On the lower bed are improved

encoding algorithms. The encoding algorithms are in the signifier of the TKIP ( Temporal Key Integrity Protocol ) and the CCMP ( antagonistic manner with CBC-MAC protocol ) . It is of import to understand how all of these three pieces work to organize the security mechanisms of 802.11i criterion. Since the construct of 802.1x has been discussed in the old subdivision, the undermentioned subdivision of this paper will merely look at TKIP and CCMP. Both of these encoding protocols provide enhanced informations unity over WEP, with TKIP being targeted at bequest equipment, while CCMP is being targeted at future WLAN equipments. However, a true 802.11i system uses either the TKIP or CCMP protocol for all equipments. 5.2.1 TKIP

The temporal cardinal unity protocol ( TKIP ) which ab initio referred to as WEP2, was designed to turn to all the known onslaughts and lacks in the WEP algorithm. Harmonizing to 802.11 Planet [ 6 ] , the TKIP security procedure begins with a 128-bit temporal-key, which is shared among clients and entree points. TKIP combines the temporal key with the client

machine ‘s MAC reference and so adds a comparatively big 16-octet low-level formatting vector to bring forth the key that will code the information. Similar to WEP, TKIP besides uses RC4 to execute the encoding. However, TKIP

alterations temporal keys every 10,000 packages. This difference provides a dynamic distribution method that significantly enhances the security of the

web. TKIP is seen as a method that can rapidly get the better of the failings in WEP security, particularly the reuse of encoding keys. The following are four new algorithms and their map that TKIP adds to

WEP [ 17 ] :

I. A cryptanalytic message unity codification, or MIC, called Michael, to get the better of counterfeits.

two. A new IV sequencing subject, to take rematch onslaughts from the aggressor ‘s armory.

three. A per-packet key blending map, to de-correlate the public IVs from weak keys.

four. A re-keying mechanism, to supply fresh encoding and unity keys, undoing the menace of onslaughts stemming from cardinal reuse.

5.2.2 CCMP

As explained antecedently, TKIP was designed to turn to lacks in WEP ; nevertheless, TKIP is non viewed as a long-run solution for WLAN

security. In add-on to TKIP encoding, the 802.11i bill of exchange defines a new encoding method based on the advanced encoding criterion ( AES ) . The AES algorithm is a symmetric block cypher that can code and decode information. It is capable of utilizing cryptanalytic keys of 128, 192, and 256 spots to code and decode informations in blocks of 128 spots [ 3 ] . More robust than TKIP, the AES algorithm would replace WEP and RC4. AES based encoding can be used in many different manners or algorithms. The

manner that has been chosen for 802.11 is the counter manner with CBCMAC protocol ( CCMP ) . The counter manner delivers data privateness while the CBC-MAC delivers informations unity and hallmark. Unlike TKIP, CCMP is compulsory for anyone implementing 802.11i [ 4 ] .

Tools for Protecting WLAN

There are some merchandises that can minimise the security menaces of WLAN suchas:


It is a commercial radio LAN invasion protection and direction system that discovers web exposures, detects and protects a Wireless local area network from interlopers and onslaughts, and aids in the direction of a WLAN. AirDefense besides has the capableness to detect exposures and menaces in a WLAN such as knave APs and ad hoc webs. Apart from

procuring a Wireless local area network from all the menaces, it besides provides a robust WLAN direction functionality that allows users to understand their web,

proctor web public presentation and enforce web policies [ 1 ] .

Isomair Wireless Sentry

This merchandise from Isomair Ltd. automatically monitors the air infinite of the endeavor continuously utilizing alone and sophisticated analysis engineering to place insecure entree points, security menaces and radio web jobs. This is a dedicated contraption using an Intelligent Conveyor Engine ( ICE ) to passively supervise wireless webs for menaces and inform the security directors when these occur. It is a wholly machine-controlled system, centrally managed, and will incorporate seamlessly with

bing security substructure. No extra man-time is required to run the system [ 8 ] .

Wireless Security Auditor ( WSA )

It is an IBM research paradigm of an 802.11 radio LAN security hearer, running on Linux on an iPAQ PDA ( Personal Digital Assistant ) . WSA helps

web decision makers to shut any exposures by automatically audits a radio web for proper security constellation. While there are other

802.11 web analysers such as Ethereal, Sniffer and Wlandump, WSA aims at protocol experts who want to capture wireless packages for elaborate

analysis. Furthermore, it is intended for the more general audience of web installers and decision makers, who want a manner to easy and

rapidly verify the security constellation of their webs, without holding tounderstand any of the inside informations of the 802.11 protocols.


The general thought of WLAN was fundamentally to supply a wireless web substructure comparable to the wired Ethernet webs in usage. It has since evolved and is still presently germinating really quickly towards offering fast connexion capablenesss within larger countries. However, this extension of physical boundaries

provides expanded entree to both authorized and unauthorised users that make it inherently less unafraid than wired webs. WLAN exposures are chiefly caused by WEP as its security protocol.

However, these jobs can be solved with the new criterions, such as 802.11i, which is planned to be released later this twelvemonth. For the clip being,

WLAN users can protect their webs by practising the suggested actions thatare mentioned in this paper based on the cost and the degree of security that they

want. However, there will be no complete hole for the bing exposures. All in all, the really best manner to procure WLAN is to hold the security cognition, properimplementation, and continued care.