Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN): Security Risk Assessment and Countermeasures
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years))Student thesis
Wireless LANs popularity has been on the rise since the ratification of the IEEE 802.11b standard in 1999. In recent years, wireless LANs are widely deployed in places such as business organizations, government bodies, hospitals, schools and even home environment. Mobility, flexibility, scalability, cost-effectiveness and rapid deployment are some of the factors driving the proliferation of this technology. However, the architecture of this technology made it insecure as WLANs broadcast radio-frequency (RF) data for the client stations to hear. This presents new challenges for network administrators and information security administrators. This study was undertaken to find out if wireless networks are inherently insecure thereby limiting enterprise deployment. If yes, what are the known holes, and can they be fixed? The security mechanisms of wireless LANs were not within the scope of this work. The author tried to answer these questions through comprehensive and broad literature study. The study shows that wireless LANs are prone to many different kinds of attacks – ranging from passive to active, and that wireless security initiative has come a long way, from weak WEP to a more robust WPA2. It also show that optimal security solution for Wireless LANs involves a combination of security technologies, and that vulnerability assessment and risk analysis are essential for development of effective security policy and determination of appropriate security measures for risk mitigation.
Wireless LANs undoubtedly provides higher productivity and cost savings. In light of this, many organisations are beginning to deploy wireless LAN technologies not only for cost savings, but also for convenience and flexibility of use. But the fundamental question plaguing the industry today is if wireless networks can be deployed securely without compromising organization’s assets - information. This study was undertaken to find out if wireless networks are inherently insecure thereby limiting enterprise deployment. If yes, what are the known holes, and can they be fixed? The following are the contributions to knowledge this work has made through exhaustive and broad literature study: 1. This study has shown that wireless LANs are prone to many different kinds of attacks. Attempt to secure wireless LANs, suitable for enterprise deployment, initiated a move from weak WEP to more robust WPA2. 2. This work also showed that the most effective security solution for Wireless LANs involves a combination of security technologies. 3. It demonstrated that a thorough vulnerability assessment and risk analysis is essential for development of effective security policy and determination of appropriate security measures, or combination of measures that are most effective. 4. It also showed that countermeasures and best practices - like personal firewalls, antivirus, intrusion detection systems e.t.c. - typically used to defend Internet-connected clients, are generally recommended for WLAN clients as well. 5. On-going monitoring and periodic testing are necessary to verify that a deployed WLAN meets defined objectives.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. , 64 p.
Wireless LANs, IEE 802.11, Attacks, Security, Access Point (AP).
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:bth-3884Local ID: oai:bth.se:arkivex2CF7D7F61E47AE4EC1257514004FCE3FOAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-3884DiVA: diva2:831198
Questions regarding this work should be directed to Nwabude, Arinze Sunday at: Email: email@example.com Phone: +46739985756, +151630112962015-04-222008-12-032015-06-30Bibliographically approved