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Wireless network security

Introduction

Wireless networks are almost inseparable part of our everyday life. They are being used at home, at work and even at department stores and bars. They are so popular mostly because of two reasons. The first one is because they are easy and cost effective to setup. Maintenance is relatively easy and with simple guides even people who have no experience with networking equipment can still manage to do the setup. The second one is that it provides users with cable free connection to the Internet, which is very convenient, seeing how people prefer to use smaller handheld devices and to be able to move freely. The focus of this research paper is going to be the security of wireless networks. Since they are so widely used and have more or less predefined setup process, this means that also security may have been compromised at places - in order to have easy setup process, more complex security measures had to be disabled by default. Despite all of that, the weakest link in this whole process is the human factor. People are often careless about the security of their data. They write down passwords and put them in easy to find places, or they choose easy password like 1234 etc. A potential weakness is when a person uses some publicly available information about him as a password, such as family name, birthday or even things he likes or discusses a lot on Facebook. Today's standard for password security is WPA/WPA2 which stands for WiFi Protected Access. This is the second major iteration of password security. The first one was WEP(Wired Equivalent Privacy) which after being the standard choice for WiFi networks since 1999, was proven[2] to have numerous flaws and the level of security that it provides was not satisfactory. That's why after about 5 years of being the default choice, it was replaced by WPA/WPA2.

Research questions
How can we secure wireless networks against network attacks? 1. Which are the most commonly used attack types/methods 2. How to secure the network specifically from these attacks 3. How to improve the overall security of the Wireless network against password attacks and traffic snooping

Answers
Which are the most commonly used attack types? Wireless networks are very vulnerable since there is no physical medium that contains the signal, but instead it is spread freely through the air. This opens it to numerous attack methods. After the research done about different methods it turns out that a large part of todays most used wireless networks are susceptible to attacks executed without any specialized equipment and freely available software tools. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks Cipher Attacks Man-in-the-Middle Attacks Eavesdropping

These are the general types of attacks that are most used [4]. Every one of these has different methods for attacking various types of encryption. But even nowadays when peoples awareness has been raised about security, they still use the more vulnerable types of encryption. How to secure the network specifically against these attacks? Most of the previous research that has been done on this topic recommends[3] using newer and improved connection standards that have been developed to include fixes for loopholes in previous generation security measures. Some of the measures that can

be taken to prevent unauthorized access are as simple as choosing a more complex password, meaning to include capitalized and lower case letters in combination with numbers and special characters like underscore, plus sign, hash tag etc. If this topic gets approved for as Individual Project topic, I would do more extensive testing to try and get more specific methods for protection. How to improve overall security of wireless networks against password attacks and traffic snooping? Just as I stated in the introduction, in order to make the setup process easier, advanced security measures had to be turned off by default. Some equipment even arrives with no password protection activated. There are many relatively simple steps[5] that people can do in order to protect their privacy and security of the network. But without proper instructions and guides everything seems too complicated and people accept the security they get by default if any.

[2] Andrea Bittau, Mark Handley, Joshua Lackey. The Final Nail in WEP's Coffinhttp://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/M.Handley/papers/fragmentation.pdf , Retrieved 2013-11-28. [3] Scott Armitage, Loughborough University October 2011, Known Wireless Attacks, Retrieved from: https://community.ja.net/system/files/222/known-wirelessattacks.pdf on 02/12/2013 [4] Christopher Low, SANS Institute 13 April 2005, Understanding Wireless attacks & detection, Retrieved from https://www.sans.org/readingroom/whitepapers/detection/understanding-wireless-attacks-detection-1633 on 02/12/2013 [5] Mindi McDowell, Allen Householder, and Matt Lytle, Published on US-CERT(United States-Computer Emergency Readiness Team, Original release date: March 11, 2010 | Last revised: February 06, 2013, Retrieved from http://www.uscert.gov/ncas/tips/ST05-003 on 02/12/2013

Conclusion
Most of the research materials that can be found are all pointing roughly to the same answer. Wireless networks so far have always been vulnerable to some extent. All recommendations that security experts give are to always update the software to the latest possible version as they often fix recently found exploits. But still even nowadays when security has been improved dramatically over the past decade, people are unaware how even the smallest changes in security settings can lead to leaked information.

Introduction - contexts, problem, research questions Body - Answer to the questions, summary of the literature, Conclusion - conclusion - answer to subquestions; discussion - reflections, limitations, recommendations References

introduction with research questions body: analysis of literature conclusion: answer to the research questions references