Wireless attacks, A to Z

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Wireless Security Lunchtime Learning

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Wireless Security
Lunchtime Learning
  By Lisa Phifer

In our buzzword-filled industry, wrapping your arms around wireless attacks and their potential business impacts can be tough. This tip tries to bring order to this chaos by providing a reference list of attacks against 802.11 and 802.1X, categorized by type of threat, and mapped to associated hacker methods and tools.

Access control attacks
These attacks attempt to penetrate a network by using wireless or evading WLAN access control measures, like AP MAC filters and 802.1X port access controls.

Type of AttackDescriptionMethods and Tools
War DrivingDiscovering wireless LANs by listening to beacons or sending probe requests, thereby providing launch point for further attacks.DStumbler, KisMAC, MacStumbler, NetStumbler, WaveStumbler, Wellenreiter
Rogue Access PointsInstalling an unsecured AP inside firewall, creating open backdoor into trusted network.Any hardware or software AP
Ad Hoc AssociationsConnecting directly to an unsecured station to circumvent AP security or to attack station.Any wireless card or USB adapter
MAC SpoofingReconfiguring an attacker's MAC address to pose as an authorized AP or station.Bwmachak,, SirMACsAlot, SMAC, Wellenreiter, wicontrol
802.1X RADIUS CrackingRecovering RADIUS secret by brute force from 802.1X access request, for use by evil twin AP.Packet capture tool on LAN or network path between AP and RADIUS server

Confidentiality attacks
These attacks attempt to intercept private information sent over wireless associations, whether sent in the clear or encrypted by 802.11 or higher layer protocols.

Type of AttackDescriptionMethods and Tools
EavesdroppingCapturing and decoding unprotected application traffic to obtain potentially sensitive information.bsd-airtools, Ethereal, Ettercap, Kismet, commercial analyzers
WEP Key CrackingCapturing data to recover a WEP key using brute force or Fluhrer-Mantin-Shamir (FMS) cryptanalysis.Aircrack, AirSnort, chopchop, dwepcrack, WepAttack, WepDecrypt, WepLab
Evil Twin APMasquerading as an authorized AP by beaconing the WLAN's service set identifier (SSID) to lure users.cqureAP, HermesAP, HostAP, OpenAP, Quetec, WifiBSD
AP PhishingRunning a phony portal or Web server on an evil twin AP to "phish" for user logins, credit card numbers.Airsnarf, Hotspotter
Man in the MiddleRunning traditional man-in-the-middle attack tools on an evil twin AP to intercept TCP sessions or SSL/SSH tunnels.dsniff, Ettercap

Integrity attacks
These attacks send forged control, management or data frames over wireless to mislead the recipient or facilitate another type of attack (e.g., DoS).

Type of AttackDescriptionMethods and Tools
802.11 Frame InjectionCrafting and sending forged 802.11 frames.Airpwn, File2air, libradiate, void11, WEPWedgie, wnet dinject/reinject
802.11 Data ReplayCapturing 802.11 data frames for later (modified) replay.Capture + Injection Tools
802.11 Data DeletionJamming an intended receiver to prevent delivery while simultaneously spoofing ACKs for deleted data frames.Jamming + Injection Tools
802.1X EAP ReplayCapturing 802.1X Extensible Authentication Protocols (e.g., EAP Identity, Success, Failure) for later replay.Wireless Capture + Injection Tools between station and AP
802.1X RADIUS ReplayCapturing RADIUS Access-Accept or Reject messages for later replay.Ethernet Capture + Injection Tools between AP and authentication server

Authentication attacks
Intruders use these attacks to steal legitimate user identities and credentials to access otherwise private networks and services.

Type of AttackDescriptionMethods and Tools
Shared Key GuessingAttempting 802.11 Shared Key Authentication with guessed, vendor default or cracked WEP keys.WEP Cracking Tools
PSK CrackingRecovering a WPA PSK from captured key handshake frames using a dictionary attack tool.coWPAtty, KisMAC, wpa_crack, wpa-psk-bf
Application Login TheftCapturing user credentials (e.g., e-mail address and password) from cleartext application protocols.Ace Password Sniffer, Dsniff, PHoss, WinSniffer
Domain Login CrackingRecovering user credentials (e.g., Windows login and password) by cracking NetBIOS password hashes, using a brute-force or dictionary attack tool.John the Ripper, L0phtCrack, Cain
VPN Login CrackingRecovering user credentials (e.g., PPTP password or IPsec Preshared Secret Key) by running brute-force attacks on VPN authentication protocols.ike_scan and ike_crack (IPsec), anger and THC-pptp-bruter (PPTP)
802.1X Identity TheftCapturing user identities from cleartext 802.1X Identity Response packets.Capture Tools
802.1X Password GuessingUsing a captured identity, repeatedly attempting 802.1X authentication to guess the user's password.Password Dictionary
802.1X LEAP CrackingRecovering user credentials from captured 802.1X Lightweight EAP (LEAP) packets using a dictionary attack tool to crack the NT password hash.Anwrap, Asleap, THC-LEAPcracker
802.1X EAP DowngradeForcing an 802.1X server to offer a weaker type of authentication using forged EAP-Response/Nak packets.File2air, libradiate

Availability attacks
These attacks impede delivery of wireless services to legitimate users, either by denying them access to WLAN resources or by crippling those resources.

Type of AttackDescriptionMethods and Tools
AP TheftPhysically removing an AP from a public space."Five finger discount"
RF JammingTransmitting at the same frequency as the target WLAN, perhaps at a power that exceeds regulation Equivalent Isotopically Radiated Power (EIRP).RF Jammer, Microwave oven, AP with Alchemy/HyperWRT firmware
Queensland DoSExploiting the CSMA/CA Clear Channel Assessment (CCA) mechanism to make a channel appear busy.An adapter that supports CW Tx mode, with a low-level utility to invoke continuous transmit
802.11 Beacon FloodGenerating thousands of counterfeit 802.11 beacons to make it hard for stations to find a legitimate AP.FakeAP
802.11 Associate / Authenticate FloodSending forged Authenticates or Associates from random MACs to fill a target AP's association table.Airjack, File2air, Macfld, void11
802.11 TKIP MIC ExploitGenerating invalid TKIP data to exceed the target AP's MIC error threshold, suspending WLAN service.File2air, wnet dinject
802.11 Deauthenticate FloodFlooding station(s) with forged Deauthenticates or Disassociates to disconnecting users from an AP.Airjack, Omerta, void11
802.1X EAP-Start FloodFlooding an AP with EAP-Start messages to consume resources or crash the target.QACafe, File2air, libradiate
802.1X EAP-FailureObserving a valid 802.1X EAP exchange, and then sending the station a forged EAP-Failure message.QACafe, File2air, libradiate
802.1X EAP-of-DeathSending a malformed 802.1X EAP Identity response known to cause some APs to crash.QACafe, File2air, libradiate
802.1X EAP Length AttacksSending EAP type-specific messages with bad length fields to try to crash an AP or RADIUS server.QACafe, File2air, libradiate

Note: Many of these tools can be found in the Auditor Security Collection, a KNOPPIX-based toolkit intended for use during penetration testing and vulnerability assessment.

>> Move to the next tip: Wi-Fi vulnerability assessment checklist

This was first published in April 2006

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