How To Defenses Wireless Hacking

There are as many defenses as there are attacks.

Frequency Hopping
One of the biggest early problems with any wireless technology is that anyone could jam it. Famous Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr (and her composer partner, George Antheil) created and patented the “frequency hopping spread spectrum” wireless technology during World War II. Frequency hopping works as a defense because the legitimate signal is sent over different frequencies (very quickly) that only the sender and receiver have agreed upon (or computed) ahead of time. Anyone wishing to disrupt the signal would need to jam a wide set of the spectrum. Without this defense, most of what we use as wireless today would not be possible.

Predefined Client Identification
Many wireless technologies have defenses that only allow predefined clients to connect. In the 802.11 spectrum, many APs allow only devices with predefined MAC addresses to connect. An AP can also only accept digital certificates from predefined, trusted, digital-certificate certification authorities or look at the device’s unique hardware address. Any identification parameter can be used.

Strong Protocols
No defense beats a strong protocol. 802.11 started off with Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which was later found to be very vulnerable, irreparably so. It was replaced with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which has proven to be remarkably resistant to attack ever since. WPA can be used with passwords, digital certificates, or other enterprise authentication methods. There have been a few successful attacks against various versions of WPA, but far fewer than most experts would have predicted, and most can be remediated by moving to a different WPA method.

Long Passwords
If the wireless AP requires a password to join, make sure that the password is very long (30 characters or longer). The same thing applies to making sure the AP’s admin password has been changed from the default and is long and complex, as well.

Patching Access Points
Access points often have vulnerabilities, so applying the vendor’s patches in a timely manner is a must.

Electromagnetic Shielding
For remote wireless attacks, like those against RFID-enabled credit cards, putting anti-electromagnetic shielding around the physical transmitter (or the whole device) can prevent eavesdropping. EM shielding is also known as EMI shielding, RF shielding, or Faraday cages. Some electronic devices, such as some cell phones, contain shielding, but most people concerned about EM eavesdropping buy third-party shielding cases. Shielded cable, like that used in normal cable television cabling, is also shielded by default to prevent unintentional signal interruption. There are far too many ways to commit wireless hacking and ways to defend against those hacking methods than can fit in a short chapter, although I’ve hopefully summarized some of the major ways.


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