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Wireless Security

By Stephfr ·
I am new to wireless technology and have just purchased a 11g Access Point + matching network cards. Most experts agree that loading a MAC address access table on my wireless Access Point is advisable in addition to using encryption. What I can't understand is how a non-authorised user would have access to my AP if their MAC address did not exist in the access table? (I do not broadcast the SSID). I.e. please can you tell me why it is necessary to use encryption if the AP supports the inclusion of a MAC access table?
Thanks for your help.

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by EdLockett In reply to Wireless Security

Simple. It is very easy to sniff the wireless communications and find a MAC address that is allowed to access the AP. It is then one more easy step to spoof this MAC address.

Really, if security is a concern, do not enable wireless without WEP, and preferably use WPA.

Hope this helps :-)

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by mike_mds In reply to Wireless Security

The unauthorized user could sniff the wireless traffic from a workstation/laptop that IS authorized (the MAC is broadcast repeatedly in the clear), and then spoof that authorized MAC on their own equipment.

A good paper on spoofing MACs can be found at:

http://home.jwu.edu/jwright/papers/wlan-mac-spoof.pdf#search='wireless%20broadcast%20MAC%20address'

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by wlbowers In reply to Wireless Security

The same way the hackers listen to packets traveling the internet.

They don't have to be logged on to the wireless network to listen or sniff as we call it.

Why do you think banks use 128 bit encryption online.

Lee

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by rob.lay In reply to Wireless Security

Don't rely on not broadcasting the SSID, the SSID is broadcast in plain text as part of all the packets that an access point transmits, this is why sniffers can pick up your AP. The best security on most AP's is 128 bit WEP, better is WPA, and make sure that you enable TKIP (Per Packet Keying) if its available, this changes the encryption key for each packet using a hashing mechanism.

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by pete.g In reply to Wireless Security

In answer to your question, any data packets (emails, files shared between PCs) passing from the AP to the computer (and vice versa) can be pulled from the air and viewed. Connecting to the AP would only make it easier (for file sniffing is one of the main aims of hackers). Encryption is essential to scramble the data in each packet, making it unreadable to all devices lacking the proper credentials. I recommend and use WPA encryption, which is the latest and hardest to crack encryption scheme. Make sure your hardware supports using it (try firmware updates if not compatible).
One point that manny miss is changing the AP's options password. By default, the password is set to "admin," making it a piece of cake to access the AP's settings and disable all security settings (or worse, lock you out of it entirely!). Thus it is essential to change the AP password, or else all other security measures are in vain. Hope this helps!

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