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Wireless Vulnerabilities and Exploits Database Becomes Industry Standard

March 6th, 2006

Network Chemistry has announced that in the first three months since its launch the Wireless Vulnerabilities and Exploits database has been used by over 230,000 visitors and is providing significant insights into emerging new threats. The fact that the database is now widely used is reflected by the more than 20 new entries that have been added since the beginning of the year and the articles that have been published referencing it as a source.

“WVE is working exactly as everyone had hoped; it has quickly gained a strong following and people are using it to learn more information about emerging wireless security threats,” said Dr. Chris Waters, co-founder and chief technology officer at Network Chemistry. “We set out to contribute back to the technical community and provide a needed resource, and the WVE is clearly raising awareness of wireless vulnerabilities and exploits and how to mitigate them.”

Detailed analysis of the WVE database reveals that the following types of vulnerabilities represent the greatest threats to wireless networking:

Product Defects: Vulnerabilities exist in all complex networking systems, especially in emerging solutions that support wireless communications. This is particularly true for core wireless networking infrastructure such as access points (APs) and VoIP phones. The database contains a number of product defect entries and the number of these will likely increase with the wider deployment of voice over wireless.

User and Client Behavior: The increased use of wireless-enabled devices by business travelers, the growing amount of confidential data residing on wireless laptops, and the ease with which users can engage in risky behavior are all cause for concern. Because users typically value connectivity over security, they may use ad hoc networks. Client software is also partially responsible for problems; a recent advisory note from the WVE Editorial Board noted that in some configurations a client will connect to an ad hoc network with the same service set identification (SSID) as one of its preferred networks. In addition, another recently published entry on the site described a vulnerability that can enable an attacker to spoof wired equivalent privacy (WEP) encrypted networks that a client has been configured to connect to. This combination of behavior and client vulnerability is leading the hacking community to focus on attacking endpoints rather than on finding more efficient ways to attack 802.11 itself.

Advancements in Attacks and Tools: Understanding the tools hackers use to penetrate security mechanisms is critical when it comes to designing secure wireless networks. The WVE analysis shows hackers are now beginning to use more sophisticated techniques such using ´gray´ or ´covert´ channels that make it harder for an intrusion detection system to detect an attack. Attackers also are increasingly using offline Rainbow-table-like tools, which can reveal passwords quickly, to mount attacks against networks.

The WVE database catalogues security threats for products or protocols specifically designed for wireless communications including 802.11, Bluetooth, VoWLAN, RFID, and other emerging wireless standards. The vendor-neutral initiative is sponsored by CWNP, the industry standard for wireless LAN training and certification; the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think thank that coordinates and directs research and education in cyber security and information assurance; and Network Chemistry.

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