About WIFI Security
Wifi Security, commonly called Wireless Security is the process of preventing unauthorized access to devices by implementing strong security protocols.
With nearly every device connected to the internet either through internal networks or through common Wifi networks, security issues have become widespread due to the ease of unauthorized access by hackers.
Due to vulnerabilities in Wireless Security systems, hackers can gain access to most unsecure Wifi Networks with just their laptop and a few uncommon apps.
Hackers have used technology vulnerabilities to exploit large networks while gaining access to organizations private data. The access to wireless networks further allows hackers to build access and hack into wired networks.
Therefore it has become extremely important for organizations to implement wireless hardware that follow security protocols that ensure encrypted data transfer.
Over the years, numerous protocols for wireless wifi security were developed but with exponential rise in computing power and ease of access to penetration tools hackers have managed to hack into some of the most secure networks on the planet.
Although computers are secure, the people using the systems can be fooled into a false sense of security leading to leading to human caused vulnerabilities that are extremely hard to fix.
Types Of Unauthorized Access
Today hackers can gain unauthorized access to networks in an unprecedented number of ways. Unlike wired networks that need physical access to explore vulnerabilities, wireless networks can be accessed by anyone within a certain range.
Therefore it is more prone to attacks in the most innovative methods. Some of the methods can be classified into the following categories.
- Accidental Association: Everytime a computer is switched on, it automatically tries to connect to a Wifi network that it was connected to previously. When there are two access points with the same SSID, it connects to either one of them based on proximity of strength of connection. A hacker can create a fake Wifi access point with the same SSID as that of an existing one and then when the laptop connects to it, the password is either provided by the system or is manually input by the user.
For example, if you are sitting in your office and you see two Wifi access points with the same name, it’s highly likely that someone is trying to tap into any one of the employees trying to connect with your real office wifi.
The moment anyone provides the password, the hackers use the password to gain access to the original Wifi while discarding the fake one.
- Malicious Association: Hackers use their own laptops to create virtual wifi access points instead of using Wifi routers and modems as its easier to create access points that can be controlled programmatically to capture information provided by the users.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attack: By using deauthentication attacks, hackers can bypass traditional authentication protocols implemented for Wifi security. Hotspots are quite the most frequently targeted in Man-in-the-middle attacks as they have little or no security mechanisms.
- Identity Theft: By spoofing the MAC addresses of a system that has network privileges, hackers can easily gain access to the whole network and even kick others out.
- Denial Of Service: By continuously attacking a targeted access point, hackers prevent existing users from connecting or often crashing the network forcing everyone in the network to reconnect. When users reconnect, hackers use malicious association to let users reveal their wifi passwords and then gain access to the networks
Wireless Security Protocols
Security algorithms were standardized along with the IEEE 802.11 Wireless standard. Overtime every technology discloses errors and vulnerabilities and therefore numerous other protocols were invented and standardized to ensure that wireless security equals wired security.
However due to the nature of wireless wifi networks and its open accessible to everyone in its range makes it increasingly vulnerable due to advancing computing systems.
- Wired Equivalent Privacy or WEP was the first security algorithm finalized and implemented in wireless networks with an aim to provide security comparable to wired networks. However it was quickly discarded in favor of WPS, WPS fixed numerous vulnerabilities that WEP exposed.
- Wifi Protected Access or WPA was created to further strengthen security in wireless networks. For example if a small word or a word found in the dictionary is used as the network password, WEP or WPS can be easily cracked.
Even WPA networks can be easily cracked as brute force attacks eliminate all possible combinations of words and characters upto a certain limit. However if larger stings of characters are used as passwords, modern computing systems do not yet have the capability to run all possible combinations of characters more than a certain limit.
Therefore WPA serves as a virtually unbreakable algorithm. The WPA2 algorithm was implemented to further strengthen networks to ensure data leaks are not possible leading the attacker to deduce passwords from the lost packets.
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