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WLAN security issues

What are the main open security issues with WLANs?
The main issue is that, by default, WLAN traffic goes across the air in clear text and is easily accessible. Even when WEP encryption is enabled, a determined hacker will likely be able to break in. Other commonly overlooked security issues are broadcasting SSIDs, not changing default configurations such as SSIDs and passwords, and not patching the firmware on APs or client OS software on the WLAN clients. Don't think that not broadcasting SSIDs or using MAC address-based access controls will completely secure the WLAN. There are ways around both approaches: 1) searching for management packets using a WLAN analyzer and 2) spoofing MAC addresses. Another common problem is rogue ad hoc or P2P WLANs that do not use APs at all. Users can set up their WLAN cards and communicate directly with each other opening up the network to security issues. WLAN clients running without personal firewall software is a no-no and putting an AP behind a firewall is bad for business too. Also, don't ever administer an AP or bridge without first enabling WEP via the console port. This is a great way for the bad guys to collect critical passwords and more.
This was last published in March 2004

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