Analysis of Wireless Network Security has been done in this report. This report explains the various challenges that occur in wireless network security. Countermeasures are discussed to overcome these challenges. Various applications of wireless networks have also been discussed in this analysis. Using this analysis, one can learn how to access wireless networks with safety and security.
Challenges faced in Wireless Network Security
Since the wireless devices are small and wireless networks have limited bandwidth. Some of the challenges related to security of wireless networks are enhancements in data rate, minimization of size, cost factor, lower power network, security of user, and Quality of service. The challenges are as follows:
Until wired connections impose any constraints on devices, all devices in wireless network are allowed to move freely. To keep the mobility, it is important that ongoing connection should be active as the user roams from here to there. It is usually a chance that handoff may occur when host shifts from coverage area of one base station to the other base station. So, there is a need to have a protocol that ensures the transition which is seamless during the situation of handoff. The protocol should make decision that when does handoff occur and how data can be routed during handoff. Packet loss may also occur during the handoff. Topology also changes in ad hoc networks when mobile host moves. Ad hoc network consists of large number of mobile hosts, challenges can be imposed on design of efficient protocol that may work in topological changes.(Singh, Vaish, & Keserwani, 2014)
Power and Energy Limitations
A mobile phone is a small in size and cannot produce power as much any fixed device can produce. When a mobile move freely, it becomes difficult to get continuous supply of the power. So, in order to conserve the energy, it should work in a proper manner. To reduce the transmissions and receptions, mobile should transmit and receive in efficient manner.(Singh, Vaish, & Keserwani, 2014)
Fading of signal
Because the wireless signals are transmitted over unsafe, and changing medium with irregular boundary, so there may be a chance that signals may get distorted or weakened. Even the same signals due to reflection, scattering and diffraction, signals may get dispersed before reaching to the receiver. After integrating all the dispersed signals together, signals may get dispersed and attenuated which may lead to the large number of packet losses.
It is important to improve the data rates for getting high speed in future. It consists of various factors: data compression algorithm, power control, interference migration, and protocol for data transfer. So, design should be based on these factors so that higher data rates may be achieved. Recently, standards like MPEG produce compression ratios of 75 to 100. So, the challenge to wireless networks is to enhance the data rate to produce high quality audio and video. (Singh, Vaish, & Keserwani, 2014)
Security is the main concern of wireless networking mainly when talking about e-commerce and m-commerce applications. There are many protocols provided by wired or wireless network such as WEP which is used to encrypt data and authenticate users. But since hackers are very intelligent, these protocols should be updated time to time.
Attacks on Wireless Networks
There are number of attacks that can affect the security of wireless networks. Few of the attacks related to Wireless network security are as follows:(Pathan, Lee, & Hong, 2006)
- Denial of Service attack: Denial of Service happens when failure occurs in nodes or malicious actions. Attacker tries to steal the resources which a user node has by sending unwanted packets and stops the users to access those resources. There are different types of DoS attacks on different layers of network. At the very first physical layer, DoS occurs in the form of jamming and tampering. At the next layer i.e. link layer, these attacks are collision, unfairness and exhaustion, at the network, they are neglect & greed, misdirection, homing, and at transport layer, malicious flooding and desynchronization occur.
- Attack on Information in transit: When the data is being sent, there are the chances that data may be modified, spoofed, or replayed again. Any attacker can easily know about the flow of traffic and can intercept or modify the data. (Pathan, Lee, & Hong, 2006)
- Sybil attack: Sometimes, it happens that one node may act as to look like more than one node by using the identity of other nodes. This attack is called as a Sybil attack. This attacks leads to loss of integrity of data, security issues and degrading resource allocation. (Pathan, Lee, & Hong, 2006)
Impacts of Issues in Real Life:
There are various issues and challenges which have been discussed in this report and it is important to learn about their impacts on the wireless network systems.
- There is a chance that anyone can hack the password of Wi-Fi networks if an user does not change the default password given by network admin.
- Due to mobility, one can lose network connection. For e.g., Connection Lost occurs most of the time during GPS navigation and person is not able to get the directions to reach the destination.
- User is likely to lose important information if proper security has not been applied. For e.g., attacker may attack on the secret information by stealing credentials of an authorized user.
Countermeasures to prevent Security of Wireless Networks
There are two kinds of countermeasures that are needed to be taken to secure wireless networks. First one includes the methods for making it hard to locate or intercept the signals. Second one includes method for keeping the data confidential and safe even if signal gets intercepted.
Signal Hiding Technique
Attacker requires identifying and locating the wireless networks to intercept wireless transmissions. There are many steps taken by an organization to locate to the wireless access points. Easiest way to locate to wireless access point consists of: Turning off Service set identifier, assigning cryptic names to SSIDs, broadcasting, reducing strength of signal. These methods are cheaper but not much efficient. Few of the methods which are expensive as well as efficient are: Use of directional antenna, signal emanation shielding techniques.
Encryption is the best technique for preventing the data and keeping it confidential and safe. It is a process of converting a plain text message or information into encrypted form i.e. unreadable form. So, this technique is beneficial to organizations who are subjected to some specific standards.
Protecting Modification of Intercepted Communication
There are two countermeasures discussed to prevent data from interception: Encryption and authentication of the devices and users.
Reducing risks of Denial-of-Service attacks
Survey of sites should be done to identify the location where signals do exist, so that decision should be taken that where wireless access points should be located. Regular audits should take place so that problems may be found and strength of signal be increased.
Preventing Wireless Access Points
Risk of unauthorized access can be reduced by organizations by following some countermeasures. Rogue access points should be eliminated. Authorized access points should be configured in an efficient way. 802.1x should be used for authenticating all devices.
Safety of Computers
Computers which are connected to wireless network also needs protection. Anti-virus, anti-spyware softwares should be installed in a computer and should be updated time to time. Firewalls are also useful in protecting the computer from threats and viruses.
Turning off identifier broadcasting
There is a mechanism found in many of the wireless router known as identifier broadcasting which sends the signal to everyone around it to announce its presence. If a person who is using the network about its present, then this information should not be broadcasted to others because hackers may take advantage by using the wireless network. So, the identifier broadcasting should be disabled in the router.(Choi, Robles, Hong, & Kim, 2008)
Change the router’s id from default
There is a default Id of router assigned by manufacturer. Since router is not broadcasting but hackers are known with this default Id and they may try to access your network. So, default Id should be changed according to you so that one may guess it and give it a try. The id should be strong i.e. it should be of at least 10 characters. (Choi, Robles, Hong, & Kim, 2008)
Training and Educating Users
Users should be given proper training to secure their networks efficiently and properly.(Choi, Robles, Hong, & Kim, 2008)
Applications of Wireless Network Technologies
- Reduction in Cost: With the use of wireless networks, cost may be reduced to a great extent. In wired networks, one has to install the network using number of physical cables which have greater cost and so there is a chance that during any natural calamity like flood, earthquake etc. Wired network may get damaged. So, wireless network implementation is easy and also useful as compared to the wired networks.
- GPS Systems: In this era of technology, usually every vehicle has GPS systems to help people to reach their destination by directing them through maps. This GPS system in vehicles is run with the help of wireless networks only.
- Weather Forecasting: Weather forecasting is done by satellites which run through wireless networks, signal is sent to them and they amplify the signal and send it back to the antenna which has been located near the earth. In this way, information is received from satellite with the help of wireless networks.
- Radio Broadcast: It was the first application of the wireless networks. Radio Broadcast is used to communicate with people over a particular range. It is mainly used in the emergency situations related to disasters. Audio broadcasting which is called as FMs is also a part of radio broadcasting.
- Wireless Power Transfer: Instead of using the wires for transferring power into homes, wireless power transfer can come in use where no one has to use the wires for power use such as no wire for AC, no plug socket for mobile. This is not a new idea, but the idea was given by Nicolas Tesla in 1893. So, this method is efficient and helpful as the cost of wires will also be reduced and also much of the efforts needed to install wired network will also be reduced.
Contribution to Knowledge:
Min-kyu Choi, and authors in “Wireless Network Security: Vulnerabilities, Threats and Countermeasures” have explained various security issues like denial of service attacks, malicious insiders etc. and various countermeasures have also been given to overcome the security issues.
Al-Sakib Khan Pathan and other authors have discussed in “Security in Wireless Sensor Networks: Issues and Challenges” various issues and challenges related to security of wireless network such as Attack on information in transit, denial of service attack, Sybil attack etc.
From this research, it has been stated that there are different issues of security that occur in wireless networks. But there are countermeasures too to protect data and security from such attacks. So, if there are existing issues in wireless networks, there are some solutions too to overcome these risks.
Wireless Network provides many benefits to increase the productivity and also helps to reduce the costs of hardwares or physical wires. There are various challenges that may be faced by wireless network but with the solutions discussed above, reasonable level of security can be achieved. In this analysis, various security attacks, challenges are discussed. Also, the solutions to the security and various applications of wireless networks have been described in this analysis.
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