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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to Security+
 9  Chapter 2:  Communication Security (Domain 2.0; 20%)
      9  2.6  Wireless
           9  2.6.4  Vulnerabilities

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Interception and Antenna Placement
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Shielding issues

The building in which the wireless network is operating can be used as a shield for itself, reducing the potential for unauthorized access to the LAN. The downside could be a negative impact on pagers and cellular phones. An additional plus is this reduces your risk of a wireless denial of service attack.

[spacer]Shared Frequencies

Keep in mind that 802.11b operates at the same frequency of a microwave oven. Something as simple as disabling the safety interlock of a consumer microwave oven creates a DoS weapon with up to 1000 watts of 802.11b interference. A more determined black hat may invest in a ‘heavy duty’ antenna, capable of handling up to a 300W
248 input from the inner workings of a microwave antenna.

If you are lucky enough to be designing for a new construction, consider metal studs and run a bare copper ground wire from the studs to a grounding rod. Before installing dry wall attach very thin layers of aluminum to the metal studs.

More often retrofitting an existing site will be your task. Steps to attenuate the signal include metallic window treatments and metallic paint on wall surfaces.

At minimum, use a laptop with a wireless network card attached loaded with the vendor’s software to reveal signal strength and perform both an interior and exterior ‘walk through’. Document the authorized locations. This needs to be done on a regular basis. Wireless LANs can be bought at the store and plugged into a hub by users without the knowledge of the company. Gartner has estimated that at least 20% of companies have rogue Wireless LAN installations249.

[spacer]Et Tu, Microsoft?

The issue of rogue wireless LAN’s is so widespread Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently took advantage of it as told to InfoWorld.

"I was in a hotel in Sun Valley last week that was not wired," Ballmer recalls. "So I turned on my PC and XP tells me there is a wireless network available. So I connect to something called Mountaineer. "Well, I don't know what that is, but I VPN into Microsoft. It worked! I don't know whose broadband I used," he chuckles. "I didn't see it in Bill's room. I called him up and said, 'Hey, come over to my room.' So soon everyone is there and connecting to the Internet through my room."

Now suppose it wasn’t Microsoft employees using the Mountaineer wireless LAN to tunnel into Microsoft. If this was a group who wished to cause the Redmond firm grief, they could have done so without worrying about covering their tracks since a search would go directly to the owner of Mountaineer. “Oops.”





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CertiGuide for Security+ ( on
Version 1.0 - Version Date: November 15, 2004

Adapted with permission from a work created by Tcat Houser et al. Version Copyright 2004 Charles M. Kozierok. All Rights Reserved.
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