Newbie Needs Help: Trying to understand wireless network security

I have been reading posts and websites and I feel like I'm getting bits and 
pieces of the story.  I'm trying to understand security over a wireless 
network.  I have read a few people saying that they are confident that they 
have a secure wireless network.  I was wondering if there is a good resource 
for beginners who would like to set up a secure network.  I understand up to 
using WPA, that disabling SSID doesn't really make a difference and that's 
about it.

I want to also know if one sets up a home network system, will the 
transmission between the desktop and the wireless be secure or is it subject 
to highjacking as well even if someone doesn't have the WPA passphrase? 
Does that mean everyone should be using a VPN at home if they don't want 
someone to eavesdrop on private files transmitting between home computers? 
I'm fairly confused. 
0
D
3/27/2005 5:35:46 PM
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D Yen wrote:
> I have been reading posts and websites and I feel like I'm getting bits and 
> pieces of the story.  I'm trying to understand security over a wireless 
> network.  I have read a few people saying that they are confident that they 
> have a secure wireless network.  I was wondering if there is a good resource 
> for beginners who would like to set up a secure network.  I understand up to 
> using WPA, that disabling SSID doesn't really make a difference and that's 
> about it.

I don't have any one resource to offer you, but I can say how I've set 
up my router based on information gleaned from here and other places.

1) change the password to access the router to something other than 
default (change the username if you can, but some routers don't let you)

2) limit the number of IP addresses you allow for use to a low number 
(only the number of computers you expect to access the router, or a 
perhaps a couple more at most)

3) change the SSID to something non-standard (using the brand of your 
router, "default," or other common name == bad)

4) disable SSID broadcasting (I don't know where you found out that this 
doesn't make a difference, but from what I've heard it's a good thing. 
This means that the person not only has to guess your passphrase, they 
have to guess your SSID too)

5) use passphrases if you can

6) disable anything having to do with remote access or remote control.

Of course from what I've heard, all of these fixes won't stop someone 
extremely determined to break into your wireless network who knows about 
packet sniffing. But this will stop the random neighbor trying to mooch 
your wireless connection, and probably 99.9% of people.

There are other things you can do to make it even more secure.

7) Statically assign local IPs to all your computers based on mac 
address. This way as long as you don't change ethernet cards, your 
computers will always be assigned the same IP. This can then be combined 
with 8 and 9 below:

8) Disable access to the internet to any IP address you allow for use 
but are not using at the moment. This can generally be done through IP 
filtering.

9) Turn on mac filtering and whitelist only the mac addresses for your 
personal computers.

> I want to also know if one sets up a home network system, will the 
> transmission between the desktop and the wireless be secure or is it subject 
> to highjacking as well even if someone doesn't have the WPA passphrase? 
> Does that mean everyone should be using a VPN at home if they don't want 
> someone to eavesdrop on private files transmitting between home computers? 
> I'm fairly confused. 

That I'm not familiar with. From what I understand, wireless connections 
are secure from packet sniffing if the connection is encrypted (such as 
sending information through an https site) but I'm not certain about 
that (and since that's not what you're asking about anyway, it's not 
really helpful anyway). I'm sure someone else can help with that (and 
rip apart anything inaccurate I may have said above ). ;-)
0
Lisa
3/27/2005 7:30:41 PM
"D Yen" <monkeyplanet_2000@yahoo.com> wrote...
>      I understand up to
> using WPA, that disabling SSID doesn't really make a difference and that's
> about it.

Well, you may not even be understanding that much...  If you have several 
tools available, each of which has a different purpose and each of which 
contributes to the overall program, why not use them?  OTOH, do you really 
NEED an expensive "supertool" that is not found in the standard toolkit?

WPA encryption is a reasnably good security protocol, but using it doesn't 
mean that disabling SSID broadcast or using MAC filtering "doesn't really 
make a difference."  Each step contributes to overall security, even if it's 
only effective against "drive-by interception" of your bandwidth, which is 
the most common and least dangerous of "hacking."


> I want to also know if one sets up a home network system, will the
> transmission between the desktop and the wireless be secure or is it 
> subject
> to highjacking as well even if someone doesn't have the WPA passphrase?
> Does that mean everyone should be using a VPN at home if they don't want
> someone to eavesdrop on private files transmitting between home computers?
> I'm fairly confused.

What are the realistic threats to YOUR system?  Are you in a crowded 
apartment building with all sorts of people trying to hack into every 
available wireless LAN?  Do you hold secret CIA documents or proprietary 
industrial information on your computer?  If not, you probably don't NEED 
anything more than 128-bit WEP or (if available on all your nodes) WPA. 
0
John
3/27/2005 7:55:38 PM
D Yen <monkeyplanet_2000@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I have been reading posts and websites and I feel like I'm getting
> bits and pieces of the story.  I'm trying to understand security over
> a wireless network.  I have read a few people saying that they are
> confident that they have a secure wireless network.  I was wondering
> if there is a good resource for beginners who would like to set up a
> secure network.  I understand up to using WPA, that disabling SSID
> doesn't really make a difference and that's about it.

http://www.practicallynetworked.com/support/wireless_secure.htm


-- 
Robert
GRC newsgroup tips - http://www.imilly.com/noregrets.htm
List of Lists - http://lists.gpick.com/
Privacy and Security - https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/ehowes/www/main-nf.htm
0
Robert
3/28/2005 12:12:55 AM
Let me address a few of your points.

MAC filtering: It's trivial to change a network card's MAC address to 
whatever you want.  It's trivial to find the MAC addresses of computers that 
ARE on the network, by just sniffing the network traffic (encypted or not).

SSID disabling: It's also trivial to find the SSID, no matter what it is, or 
if it's disabled, since it's also sent out on packets (encrypted or not).

All the stuff with assigning static IPs, and limiting the number of IPs are 
in all honesty almost useless.  They'll do more to get in your way than they 
will to hinder any sort of attacker.  I like what you said about using 
passphrases.  If you set up WPA, and use a large passphrase (change it every 
few weeks), then I'd like to see someone break into your network.

Matt Gibson - GSEC 
0
Matt
3/28/2005 6:31:23 AM
> WPA encryption is a reasnably good security protocol, but using it doesn't
> mean that disabling SSID broadcast or using MAC filtering "doesn't really
> make a difference."  Each step contributes to overall security, even if 
> it's
> only effective against "drive-by interception" of your bandwidth, which is
> the most common and least dangerous of "hacking."

Really?  because as I drive by "your" house, and if you are using your 
wireless, I can see your SSID AND the MAC address I need to spoof to get on 
your network in seconds.  Personally, this does more to get in your way than 
it does to deter any attacker

> What are the realistic threats to YOUR system?  Are you in a crowded
> apartment building with all sorts of people trying to hack into every
> available wireless LAN?  Do you hold secret CIA documents or proprietary
> industrial information on your computer?  If not, you probably don't NEED
> anything more than 128-bit WEP or (if available on all your nodes) WPA.

You don't know the realistic threats to your system.  Even if you live on an 
acreage, there could be a miscreant with a 30DB gain dish antenna pointed at 
your house.  And I'm sure most people don't hold secret documents, but I 
still wouldn't want people getting access to my e-mail passwords.

Matt Gibson - GSEC
0
Matt
3/28/2005 6:34:23 AM
On Sun, 27 Mar 2005 22:31:23 -0800, Matt Gibson wrote:

> Let me address a few of your points.
> 
> MAC filtering: It's trivial to change a network card's MAC address to 
> whatever you want.  It's trivial to find the MAC addresses of computers that 
> ARE on the network, by just sniffing the network traffic (encypted or not).
> 
> SSID disabling: It's also trivial to find the SSID, no matter what it is, or 
> if it's disabled, since it's also sent out on packets (encrypted or not).

I agree, Matt. I'd say SSID disabling causes more inconvenience for the
legitimate user than it does for the wardriver. Furthermore, there are
some wireless routers and wireless nics that don't play well without
SSID turned on. A recent Netgear installation that I did just wouldn't
renew it's SPK without the SSID.

otoh, another Netgear installation in a upper-mid scale residential
neighborhood showed three other Netgear installations. Two of them were
using the default SSID. Had I not changed the default, this installation
would have made the third. One wouldn't have any idea whose router he
was actually using. Turning off SSID broadcasting would have made the
accidental traversal to someone else's router impossible. But as I said,
the Netgear didn't play well without SSID broadcasting.

Of course, I'm just remarking on what I observed. The installations that
I set up do indeed use WPA with long and complex passphrases and a
non-default SSID

> All the stuff with assigning static IPs, and limiting the number of IPs are 
> in all honesty almost useless.  They'll do more to get in your way than they 
> will to hinder any sort of attacker.  I like what you said about using 
> passphrases.  If you set up WPA, and use a large passphrase (change it every 
> few weeks), then I'd like to see someone break into your network.

Again, from the sense that a hacker would be undeterred, you're right.
However, in the case that a dense cluster of people are all on wireless,
cutting down on the number of assignable addresses does show benefit if
no other steps are taken.

Interestingly, Netgear wireless routers seem to be the number one choice
in this city for self-installations. CompUSA, Office Max, and Office
Depot all recently had sales on them. It's interesting to see the
result. It's truly a wireless commune.


-- 
Mike H
0
Mike
3/28/2005 7:21:03 AM
Matt Gibson wrote:
> Let me address a few of your points.
> 
> MAC filtering: It's trivial to change a network card's MAC address to 
> whatever you want.  It's trivial to find the MAC addresses of computers that 
> ARE on the network, by just sniffing the network traffic (encypted or not).
> 
> SSID disabling: It's also trivial to find the SSID, no matter what it is, or 
> if it's disabled, since it's also sent out on packets (encrypted or not).

It's trivial for *some* people. As I said in my post, many of these 
precautions will not stop the "determined hacker," but they will stop 
the random neighbor. If you live in a dense population, that could mean 
the difference between having your connection all to yourself and having 
connection speed sapped by moochers.

> All the stuff with assigning static IPs, and limiting the number of IPs are 
> in all honesty almost useless.  They'll do more to get in your way than they 
> will to hinder any sort of attacker.  I like what you said about using 
> passphrases.  If you set up WPA, and use a large passphrase (change it every 
> few weeks), then I'd like to see someone break into your network.

And what of turning off internet access to the IPs you aren't using? If 
you are only using the number of IPs equal to your computers and all 
your computers are usually on, then there are no open slots for the 
moochers.

I have not found my precautions to get in my way on most occasions. 99% 
of the time, the same computers are connected to my network, and use the 
same network cards, so I don't need to be constantly adding new mac 
addresses or toggling access to different IPs.

If the tool is there to use, I don't see why you shouldn't use it. Based 
on your logic, I shouldn't bother locking my door at night because there 
are people out there who can pick locks, or who can and will brute force 
their way in my door.
0
Lisa
3/28/2005 1:20:12 PM
> It's trivial for *some* people. As I said in my post, many of these
> precautions will not stop the "determined hacker," but they will stop the 
> random neighbor. If you live in a dense population, that could mean the 
> difference between having your connection all to yourself and having 
> connection speed sapped by moochers.

No, it's trvial period.  By your argument, (which you use against me later 
on), you shouldn't bother doing anything, since it won't stop anyone. 
Anyone with even a slight intrest in wireless will be able to find a valid 
MAC address and your SSID within 10 seconds.

> And what of turning off internet access to the IPs you aren't using? If 
> you are only using the number of IPs equal to your computers and all your 
> computers are usually on, then there are no open slots for the moochers.

I agree, this part WILL stop drive by moochers.  But in my mind, if they've 
already gotten onto your network enough to worry about IP addresses, then 
you're screwed as it is.  If you use a sufficently large WPA password, and 
change it on a regular basis, then you should never GET someone on your 
network in the first place.

> If the tool is there to use, I don't see why you shouldn't use it. Based 
> on your logic, I shouldn't bother locking my door at night because there 
> are people out there who can pick locks, or who can and will brute force 
> their way in my door.

Because some tools are pointless when others are available.  Just because 
you CAN cut your lawn with scissors doesn't mean you should, when a 
lawnmower is available.  Same with your door lock.  There's no sense just 
putting a chair behind the door, when there are dead-bolt locks available. 
0
Matt
3/28/2005 5:08:23 PM
I guess this is kind of unrelated, but since you seem to know a lot about 
this, I was wondering what you know about submitting passwords over 
wireless using SSL or HTTPS or the like. How secure is it?
0
Lisa
3/28/2005 5:55:33 PM
Matt Gibson wrote:
>>It's trivial for *some* people. As I said in my post, many of these
>>precautions will not stop the "determined hacker," but they will stop the 
>>random neighbor. If you live in a dense population, that could mean the 
>>difference between having your connection all to yourself and having 
>>connection speed sapped by moochers.
> 
> 
> No, it's trvial period.  By your argument, (which you use against me later 
> on), you shouldn't bother doing anything, since it won't stop anyone. 
> Anyone with even a slight intrest in wireless will be able to find a valid 
> MAC address and your SSID within 10 seconds.

I've been following wireless security with great interest (although have 
no practical experience). Everything I've been able to read indicates to 
me that there is no completely reliable way to secure a wireless 
connection from a determined, informed hacker.

I would not trust any wireless connection that doesn't travel through a 
VPN, at least not with sensitive information. I would definitely not 
open up file sharing on a wireless LAN.

Admittedly it's possible to stop drive-by or live-by moochers who are 
not experts, merely because if you put up enough roadblocks they will 
find it easier to use somebody else's connection (at least in a typical 
suburban or urban area).

I'm waiting to get my own wireless LAN until there's a reasonable means 
to secure it sufficiently for filesharing of sensitive files.
0
Kerry
3/28/2005 6:00:38 PM
It's pretty darn secure.

There's no known attacks on SSL connections (besides the man in the middle 
stuff) at the encryption level, just the implementation level.

I'd feel safe if I were you.

Matt Gibson - GSEC



"Lisa" <noreply@noreply.com> wrote in message 
news:Xns96278380A37A6noreply.noreply.com@69.28.135.241...
>I guess this is kind of unrelated, but since you seem to know a lot about
> this, I was wondering what you know about submitting passwords over
> wireless using SSL or HTTPS or the like. How secure is it? 
0
Matt
3/28/2005 6:13:20 PM
> I've been following wireless security with great interest (although have
> no practical experience). Everything I've been able to read indicates to 
> me that there is no completely reliable way to secure a wireless 
> connection from a determined, informed hacker.

Agreed.  However, this is not limited to wireless.  There is no completely 
reliable way to secure anything from a determined informed hacker.  One must 
weigh the risks versus the benifits.

> I would not trust any wireless connection that doesn't travel through a 
> VPN, at least not with sensitive information. I would definitely not open 
> up file sharing on a wireless LAN.

No argument here.  If you were to use VPN over a WPA link, (and sufficently 
strong passwords on both), I'd say that you're safe.  A hacker would have 
sufficent reason to want to spend the time penetrating that network, and I 
doubt the average user has data of that significant importance.

> Admittedly it's possible to stop drive-by or live-by moochers who are not 
> experts, merely because if you put up enough roadblocks they will find it 
> easier to use somebody else's connection (at least in a typical suburban 
> or urban area).

I think you've overestimated the "insecurity" of wireless.  Most of that 
insecurity comes from the vast majority of people who incorrectly (or don't 
at all) configure their wireless devices, and the other bit comes from 
relying on technology that is pretty useless (changing SSIDs and MAC 
filtering).

The internet is highly insecure...and yet we send very confidential 
information over it without much thought, since it's (hopefully) encypted. 
Just treat your wireless connection the same way, and you'll be fine.

Matt Gibson - GSEC
0
Matt
3/28/2005 6:20:06 PM
Which should be the first line of defense, keep the "honest" person honest.
Even
the majority of thieves it will keep honest. Why break into something that
even has
a cheap lock on it if the person next door has no lock at all? As stated, if
you have
something you think the thieve might want, then go with more then a cheap
lock.

I was happy my neighbor didn't secure his wireless. I was setting up a
wireless
in my son's room and couldn't remember the passwords I had setup. So
finished
patching my son's machine using his connection while I looked up the
passwords.

"Kerry" <user@domain.invalid> wrote in message
news:d29go3$49n$1@news.grc.com...
> Admittedly it's possible to stop drive-by or live-by moochers who are
> not experts, merely because if you put up enough roadblocks they will
> find it easier to use somebody else's connection (at least in a typical
> suburban or urban area).
0
Nobody
3/29/2005 12:52:46 PM
Thanks to all who have replied to the post.  I'm stll trying to understand 
if I sent information between my desktop and my laptop would be secure.  I'm 
thinking that it wouldn't be only because even if the network is private, 
the information transferred isn't encrypted and so someone could still 
intercept the information.  Is that why a wireless router with VPN would be 
useful?  It isn't that I have alot to hide, but I would rather not have 
anyone snooping around my info.  Incidently, how easily can one break a 64 
hexidecimal code on WPA that would necessitate changing the code every few 
weeks.  Does anyone know of an automatic WPA code creator?  Thanks again. 
0
D
3/29/2005 10:13:03 PM
Information is only secure on a "end to end" basis, if the encryption is 
being performed on the two machines doing the talking.  If the 
encryption/decryption is done anywhere else, the message is in plaintext for 
a bit, and can be captured (within reason).

For example:

Computer 1&2 <====> VPN Endpoint <====VPN Tunnel====> VPN endpoint <===> 
Computer 3

If computer 1 sets up a VPN to computer 3, computer 2 can still listen into 
the conversation, since the traffic at that point is not encrypted.

Matt Gibson - GSEC

"D Yen" <monkeyplanet_2000@yahoo.com> wrote in message 
news:d2cjtl$26o1$1@news.grc.com...
> Thanks to all who have replied to the post.  I'm stll trying to understand
> if I sent information between my desktop and my laptop would be secure. 
> I'm
> thinking that it wouldn't be only because even if the network is private,
> the information transferred isn't encrypted and so someone could still
> intercept the information.  Is that why a wireless router with VPN would 
> be
> useful?  It isn't that I have alot to hide, but I would rather not have
> anyone snooping around my info.  Incidently, how easily can one break a 64
> hexidecimal code on WPA that would necessitate changing the code every few
> weeks.  Does anyone know of an automatic WPA code creator?  Thanks again.
>
> 
0
Matt
3/29/2005 10:25:05 PM
Thanks Matt.  I have read a couple of posts where you stated that you have a 
secure system.  At home, do you employ a VPN?  If so, do you use a router 
with VPN?  I read a little about VNC and tunneling and alas, it was a bit 
too confusing for me.  Is there a more simple (and cheaper) approach other 
than getting a VPN router?  Thanks.

"Matt Gibson" <mattg@blueedgetech.ca> wrote in message 
news:d2ckk2$27aq$1@news.grc.com...
> Information is only secure on a "end to end" basis, if the encryption is
> being performed on the two machines doing the talking.  If the
> encryption/decryption is done anywhere else, the message is in plaintext 
> for
> a bit, and can be captured (within reason).
>
> For example:
>
> Computer 1&2 <====> VPN Endpoint <====VPN Tunnel====> VPN endpoint <===>
> Computer 3
>
> If computer 1 sets up a VPN to computer 3, computer 2 can still listen 
> into
> the conversation, since the traffic at that point is not encrypted.
>
> Matt Gibson - GSEC 
0
D
3/30/2005 5:33:02 PM
Lisa wrote:
> And what of turning off internet access to the IPs you aren't using? If
> you are only using the number of IPs equal to your computers and all
> your computers are usually on, then there are no open slots for the
> moochers.

More likely, a moocher will mimic your MAC address, then there will be
_some_ sort of meltdown when two machines attempt to use the same MAC
address and IP.

So a moocher goes from bandwidth reduction across the board to total DoS for
one or more of your systems. Maybe an improvement, but it depends how you
look at it.

Regards,
Sam
0
Sam
4/7/2005 9:58:11 PM
Or, they just wait till you stop using that computer and turn it off, or 
whatnot, then access the network.

Matt Gibson - GSEC
0
Matt
4/7/2005 11:35:09 PM
D Yen wrote:

>  Does anyone know of an automatic WPA code creator?  Thanks again.

If you have linux, this oneliner will generate a random 64 digit hexidecimal
key.
dd if=/dev/random bs=1 count=32 2>/dev/null | od -t x1 | sed -e '3d' -e
's/^.\{7\}//' -e 's/ //g' | tr -d '\n' ; echo

0
jschiwal
5/19/2006 6:52:36 AM
jschiwal wrote:

> D Yen wrote:
> 
> 
>> Does anyone know of an automatic WPA code creator?  Thanks again.
> 
> 
> If you have linux, this oneliner will generate a random 64 digit hexidecimal
> key.
> dd if=/dev/random bs=1 count=32 2>/dev/null | od -t x1 | sed -e '3d' -e
> 's/^.\{7\}//' -e 's/ //g' | tr -d '\n' ; echo
> 

Otherwise try https://www.grc.com/passwords.htm

AlanD
0
AlanD
5/19/2006 1:33:01 PM
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Hi, again a newbie with wireless problems Just installed Suse 11.0 on a IBM Thinkpad T30 with a 3CRPAG175 wireless card. As so many, I don't get wireless to work. In the meantime I've browsed a lot of forums including this one and I've also studied stickys thread about 'Getting Your Wireless To Work'. I've not setup the card with Yast, I'm using KNetworkmanager. -iwlist scan- shows the access point (Belkin) correctly. So, the card at least is working and can receive data. Connection to the AP however fails. -dmesg- shows, that authentification fails....

Many Wireless Security Breaches Reported At Security Conference
Many Wireless Security Breaches Reported At Security Conference http://www.securitypipeline.com/60402137 ----------------------------------------------------------- Quote ----------------------------------------------------------- There were 32 "Evil Twin" attacks and many other types of security breaches aimed at Wi-Fi users of the recently-concluded RSA security conference, wireless security vendor AirDefense claimed Thursday. In an Evil Twin attack, hackers set up bogus access points and try to get nearby wireless users to log on either. Then, they can steal informati...

Wireless security?
I plugged my wireless router into my power strip so that when I turn off my desktop computer the router is also off which is about as secure as a wireless network could ever get (!) but.... I have no internet access from my laptop if the desktop is off so I'd like to plug the router in to be on all the time. My router is a very old obsolete Netgear MR814 with only WEP security but I've done the best I can figure out to secure things. Question is, how much real risk is there leaving the router on all the time? 1. Good = I live in a house, I doubt there'd be ...

Wireless Security/IP Spoofing Help
Each time you see **IP Spoofing**, we've been unable to log into our network. I've read of a flaw with wireless networking where someone spoofs the IP of the router, and tricks a computer into sending its encryption key to the hacker instead of the router. This is really irking me now. 10.10.10.2 login/logout is me going into the router to check the logs. As you can see, someone tried ".33" first, but that failed as ".33" doesn't exist on our network. Then they went straight to ".1". Can someone help with this please? I have DHCP enabled, b...

wireless security
Hi, I want to secure a wireless router/modem. Is it sufficient just to restrict access by access list with MAC address? or do need to use some of the other security options? cheers CW "code_wrong" <tac@tac.co.uk> wrote in message news:eho8hi$2v8m$1@news.grc.com... > Hi, > I want to secure a wireless router/modem. > Is it sufficient just to restrict access by access list with MAC address? > or do need to use some of the other security options? > cheers /paste Path: news.grc.com!. From: john .s. smith <reply_here@local.invalid> News...

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