First it was WEP, then WPA followed. As soon as one protocol was judged inherently insecure another took its place. Now WPA2 is the generally preferred method of securing wireless networks. In a time where more and more serious vulnerabilities are being found for the WPA2 protocol, it seems that WPA2 is working hard to keep ahead of the attackers that are targeting wireless networks. The reality of the situation is that while wireless technology is improving over time, so is the technology that these malicious users are using to try to break it.
The Current State of Security with WPA2
Today, as it stands, WPA2 is still the recommended choice when it comes to wireless security protocols. No matter if you are looking at standard WPA2 with a pre-shared key or WPA2 enterprise with 802.1X, a wireless network is not bullet proof, even with one of these enabled. Recently, with the KRACK vulnerability it became apparent that the way WPA2 is being is attacked is by focusing on the four-way handshake that it uses to authenticate users. With a combination of existing technology and new technology that is being developed, the days of cracking wireless security just to gain network access are fading away. Newer attacks and malware are allowing the actual TCP streams to be manipulated and malware injected into them in transit. Imagine visiting a reputable website you’ve been to many times before to find out that this time, you’ve been infected with ransomware. Unfortunately, with the advancement and progress these attacks are making, that can be a reality.
The key to remember is that while WPA2 is the most commonly used method of wireless security today, it is not perfect and should not be solely responsible for your wireless security.
Technology Fights Back
Technology is being developed that allows malicious users to more easily spread malware and launch attacks. Technology is also being developed to counteract these attacks as well. Vendors offer firmware updates for wireless access points and other wireless networking equipment as fast as they are aware of the vulnerabilities. To add that next level of security though, a product such as Aruba RFProtect might just be the trick. So many users protect their firewalls and hardwire networks with intrusion prevention systems, so why shouldn’t the same type of technology be applied to the wireless infrastructure? Aruba RFProtect can be utilized to scan and detect wireless intruders using your Aruba wireless access points while simultaneously serving wireless clients like any other access point. No need to add any additional wireless radios. RFProtect will ensure your wireless network is protected by monitoring the 2.4, 4.9, and 5Ghz spectrums simultaneously. By monitoring each of those frequency ranges, it allows the Aruba IDS signatures to have the maximum effect on all wireless traffic that is within range. You won’t need to worry about any wireless network traffic going unmonitored.
The Future of Wireless Security
When it comes to wireless security standards such as WEP, WPA, and WPA2, I see each of them as the baseline. Most wireless networks, at a minimum, will be on the latest, most secure of these types of options. This is evident by the vast number of people today running WPA2. With the number of attacks tailored for WPA2 networks though, is it time for a new player in the security game? Is WPA3 on the horizon? History shows us that as a new protocol becomes the standard, it only “resets the clock” until new vulnerabilities and attacks are found. This just proves that network admins can’t simply rely on the latest and greatest security protocols that are available. Technology today dictates that network planning must take a wider approach and not focus on a single technology, appliance, or piece of software to keep network users safe.