In several of my recent wireless scanning exercises, I have encountered soft APs much more often than before. In one case, it was an employee who returned from business trip who had used USB WiFi AP in hotel to share his Internet connection with fellow workers (well, they did not all want to pay $5 per hour, if they can get around by paying only once!) and did not care to remove it from laptop before connecting into enterprise network. In another case, it was an employee in no-WiFi organization who used to impress others by creating soft AP on his Window’s laptop for others to access. The moral of these stories is that the occurrence of rogue AP on the enterprise network in the form of soft AP has become more pronounced of late. I think the reasons behind this are the ease with which operating systems (notably Microsoft Windows) allow soft AP configuration on embedded WiFi interfaces as well as off-the-shelf availability of PCMCIA cards and USB sticks designed for soft AP operation. It is also worth noting that soft AP is also a perfect “solution” to put rogue AP on network evading wireside controls such as 802.1x, NACs and wireside-only rogue AP scanner.
So what is a soft AP? Soft access point (AP) is a laptop or other such wireless enabled device which performs traffic forwarding between its wired and wireless interfaces. If the wired interface of such device is connected into enterprise network, soft AP acts as rogue AP on the network. It can be accessed on the wireless side by unauthorized users who can then get bridged to wired enterprise network through the soft AP. Easiest way to create soft AP on Windows laptop is to enable bridging or ICS between its wired and wireless interfaces. Another easy way to create soft AP is to plug USB devices such as Windy31 in the laptop which then auto-configure rest of the things required for soft AP operation.
So it becomes imperative that protection from soft APs be an important consideration while evaluating WiFi security posture of enterprise networks.
Wireless gadgets, Wireless security
One critical requirement from wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) is that it should offer robust protection against rogue wireless access points. The protection should entail instant detection followed by automatic blocking (prevention). Rogue AP detection should be free from false alarms – both on positive and negative sides.
Rogue AP means unauthorized AP wired to (connected to) monitored enterprise network. In other words, rogue AP satisfies two conditions: i) It is not on the authorized AP list, AND ii) it is wired to the monitored enterprise network.
The first of the above two conditions is easy to test, just compare BSSID of detected AP with your managed AP BSSID list. The second condition is where things start to become interesting. Accurately and reliably detecting if every AP seen in air is wired or not wired to the monitored enterprise network requires technological sophistication. Based on the level of sophistication, three types of rogue AP detection workflows are prevalent in wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) solutions available in the market. Read more…
Wireless scanning, Wireless security
Skyjacking vulnerability which allows Cisco LAP to be diverted to connect to rogue controller by manipulating OTAP could be more dangerous than what has been clarified by Cisco in its advisory. The advisory says that “An exploit could prevent the device from functioning properly, resulting in a DoS condition. There is no risk of data loss or interception by the rogue access point or Wireless LAN Controller.”
As a matter of fact, it should be possible to convert Authorized Cisco LAP into a wired rogue AP using skyjacking. After Cisco LAP is trapped into skyjacking (for example, made to connect to a controller hosted on the net), it is possible to convert it to Cisco REAP mode and make it bridge traffic locally between Enterprise wired subnet and wireless.
Just a thought – won’t blocking LWAPP discovery port on enterprise firewall protect you from this threat?
Stay tuned for more updates as we dig deeper into this.
Best practices, Wireless security