Wireless LAN Security

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Abstract. In this paper, we first introduce the readers about the security aspects of Wireless Local Area Network of a developing country university. This is followed by a description of Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) security threats that we have identified and later, we identified the free and open source tools to be used when security threats need to be dealth with. The performance of some these tools are presented. Finally, we conclude by highlighting the lesson learnt from our research by providing a framework which if taken would minimize the security threats.
In 1997, the IEEE ratified the 802.11 Wireless LAN standards, establishing a global standard for implementing and deploying Wireless LANS. The throughput for 802.11 is 2Mbps, which was well below the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet counterpart. Late in 1999, the IEEE ratified the 802.11b standard extension, which raised the throughput to 11 Mbps, making this extension more comparable to the wired equivalent. The 802.11b also supports the 2 Mbps data rate and operates on the 2.4GHz band in radio frequency for high-speed data communications

We are designing a new course on 'Wireless Computing and Security', in which WLANs and related security issues are a major component. One of the goals in designing the course is to include practical hacking and defense laboratories in the course as student projects. To supplement studying of the theoretical fundamentals of wireless computing, it is desirable that students would be able to use simple hardware and software to set up WLANs and test the various hacking and defense methods. We have conducted a survey of the WLAN standards, their features and vulnerabilities. Another survey of security mechanisms for WLANs revealed that SSL(Secure Socket Layer),VPN (Virtual Private Networks), Cisco's LEAP(Lightweight EAP) and the new 802.11i protocols are viable protection methods that may be adopted to enhance WLAN security. Based on the two surveys, we then designed a sequence of labs that
use simple hardware and software configurations to provide various test beds on which the vulnerabilities and security mechanisms of WLANs can be studied. The rest of the paper includes the result of our study and research, starting with a survey of the WLAN standards and their respective vulnerabilities, followed by discussions of
alternative protection mechanisms, and laboratory designs which provide various configurations of platforms for students to launch attacks and to implement security solutions in a closed WLAN. Appendix A contains a mini dictionary with common WLAN-related terminology.

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