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Web site documents wireless threats, vulnerabilities

Network Chemistry has launched the industry's first public database to aggregate and communicate wireless vulnerabilities and exploits. The site alerts network administrators and IT managers of potential threats, before any damage is done.

Protecting a wireless network from attack may have just gotten a little easier.

Network Chemistry Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based wireless security vendor today will launch Wireless Vulnerabilities & Exploits (WVe), a public Web site listing risks and threats that could strike wireless networks and ways to fix and avoid them.

Understanding wireless threats and vulnerabilities has become a concern for many companies and IT managers, but there has been no single resource they could rely on for up-to-date information and risk assessments. But through the site,, Network Chemistry and a host of wireless and security experts hope to change that.

Lisa Phifer, vice president of Core Competence Inc., a network and security consulting firm, said WVe fills a void for administrators who, until now, didn't have access to a one-stop shop that focused solely on wireless security threats.

Wireless represents the easiest back door to get into a network. It's the simplest vector to exploit.
Robert Markovich
President & CEONetwork Chemistry
"Wired network and system administrators have long relied on industry-maintained 'common vulnerability and exposures' databases to find out about new threats and patches or practices that can be used to mitigate them," she said. "To date, there simply has not been a resource like this for wireless."

Phifer is one of several members of the Web site's editorial board, which is responsible for researching and classifying potential threats, naming them and posting a concise description on the Web site, along with ways to protect against them. The board comprises vendors, experts and analysts from wireless network and security spaces.

"WLAN administrators have had to sift through vendor-specific documentation and wireless user forums," she said. "Without a common vendor-neutral repository, there has been no central list to keep an eye on, and no common terminology with which to recognize new threats, or even know whether you've missed something important."

Network Chemistry president and CEO Robert Markovich said the site goes live today. It is the industry's first public database to aggregate and communicate wireless vulnerabilities and exploits. The database catalogs threats for wireless-specific products and protocols including 802.11, Bluetooth, EVDO, Enhanced Data GSM Environment, High-Speed Downlink Packet Access, 802.16/WiMax, VoWLAN and RFID.

"Wireless represents the easiest back door to get into a network," Markovich said. "It's the simplest vector to exploit. Folks are just starting to get that now."

A quick glance at the site before the live launch yielded descriptions and explanations of dozens of exploits and vulnerabilities like Aircrack, AirJack, Aerosol and a host that uses Bluetooth, such as Blueprint, BlueBump, Car Whisperer, BlueBug and BlueSnarf. The site will be updated as needed. Threats can be searched by name, type or classification.

Markovich said such a resource is "long overdue" and that the site will help increase awareness of wireless security threats and provide insight into how to prevent attacks.

Certified Wireless Network Professional, a family of wireless certifications from Planet3 Wireless Inc., and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies sponsor the site, which Markovich said will establish a "common nomenclature" for security analysts, vendors and consultants, and also allow IT managers to stay abreast of the changing face of wireless security.

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A common nomenclature is advantageous to anyone interested in wireless security -- administrators, analysts and vendors -- because in the past, different names were assigned to the same type of attack or different types of attacks were given the same name, said Joshua Wright, senior security researcher for Aruba Wireless Networks, who also sits on the editorial board for WVe. Additionally, the increased proliferation of threats and attacks has created confusion in the wireless community.

"As the complexity of wireless networks increases, attacks have become more sophisticated," he said. "This is a great way to involve multiple vendors to get some collaboration. By using WVe we can have an apples-to-apples comparison of exploits and vulnerabilities and the tools available. It's a great step toward providing a consistent forum for reporting and identifying wireless-specific attacks."

Anyone can submit a potential threat to the editorial board. Threats will be posted if and when they're deemed credible.

Other members of the WVe editorial board include:

  • Devin Akin, chief technology officer of CWNP, the industry standard for WLAN training and certification.
  • Newton Howard, expert in Homeland Security, intelligence analysis and cyber security and adviser to the U.S. special operations community.
  • Mike Kershaw, author of Kismet, an open source project for 802.11 wireless network detection, sniffing and intrusion detection.
  • Andrew Lockhart, lead security analyst at Network Chemistry and author of Snort-Wireless, an open source project adding wireless intrusion detection to Snort.

Phifer is hoping WVe will ultimately provide a consolidated, searchable, multivendor threat database, focused on wireless technologies, their vulnerabilities and discovered exploits.

"A resource like this can help WLAN administrators learn about new threats faster, so they can find and fix wireless problems before attackers do," she said.

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