Rogue Access Points: a Cyber Security Threat
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
Rogue access points are hardware devices used by attackers to gain entry to your network and cause significant organizational damage – from data theft and ransomware attacks to disrupting services and even disrupting business services altogether.
Evil twin, rogue access points, are one form of rogue access point designed to trick authorized users into connecting. By doing so, this enables attackers to intercept traffic.
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Rogue Access Points (RAPs) are unapproved network devices – typically wireless routers – connected to enterprise-wired infrastructure without IT approval, providing hackers with backdoor entry into company networks where they can intercept traffic, steal data, and launch other attacks on them. Rogue APs may also be used to distribute malware and compromise devices.
Network security rogue access points may be installed by employees or third parties and often go undetected for extended periods, giving attackers an opportunity to exploit these devices. An employee could set up their smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot that broadcasts an Internet signal that allows other people to connect. This device acts as an illegal network access point that could monitor and record sensitive information such as passwords and login credentials that might otherwise remain undetected by others.
Unauthorized access points can also be used to execute a man-in-the-middle attack, in which an untrustworthy AP mimics an authorized one by using its same ESSID and MAC address. Then, when workstations connect to it, they become vulnerable to intercepted messages between the workstation and authorized AP that may contain confidential data stolen by it en route and modified during transit, thus giving away confidential data to outsiders.
An unauthorized AP may also be used to set up peer-to-peer wireless connections between workstations connected directly via Wireless LAN connections instead of traversing the company network. This type of communication bypasses security measures like encryption and IDS/IPS systems, making it harder for cybersecurity teams to detect and block.
Not every unauthorized access point detected by a scanner is malicious; an unauthorized access point could also be legitimate devices like employee laptops that serve as hotspots or tethering devices – though businesses shouldn’t tolerate such practices. Best practices for identifying rogue access points include regularly scanning networks and updating device firmware, disabling plug-and-play to prevent users from adding their own wireless devices directly onto networks, as well as disabling plug-and-play so users cannot add personal wireless devices into them themselves.
Malware is software created specifically to infiltrate and disrupt computer systems, mobile devices, and networks. Malware seeks to steal sensitive information, monitor users, and manipulate core functions without their knowledge or consent – often for financial gain, political statements, or simply bragging rights.
Malware attacks rely on victims being willing to open email attachments with suspicious subjects or click suspicious website links, even those considered knowledgeable enough not to fall for it. Once installed on a device, malware can remain undetected for months or longer before taking over and performing theft of data or other malicious acts.
The four most prevalent types of malware include viruses, worms, backdoors, and Trojans. Of the four types mentioned here, viruses are among the most destructive forms, capable of self-replicating by infecting other programs or files on a computer system. Worms represent more sophisticated versions of viruses, using exploits and vulnerabilities to spread throughout networks without interaction from their victims. Trojans pose as useful applications that fool victims into installing them while at the same time stealing confidential data and installing additional harmful code, such as cryptojacking or spyware, onto systems.
Backdoors are covert ways of bypassing authentication or encryption processes on computers, products, embedded devices (like routers), or operating systems. Backdoors can be created through malware attacks on software vulnerabilities or through attacks from viruses such as worms.
To effectively detect and prevent malware, an effective cyber protection strategy must include antivirus, antispyware, and malware detection features as well as vulnerability protection and content filtering on a firewall. This is particularly critical given the proliferation of hybrid malware threats that utilize multiple infection vectors – from emails deceiving users into downloading an infected file or clicking links in malicious websites to ransomware encrypting victim’s data and demanding payment to unlock it, cryptojacking using the CPU power of devices for cryptocurrency mining purposes – to cryptojacking exploiting CPU power for cryptocurrency mining purposes.
Network attacks come in all shapes and sizes and can be devastatingly destructive. Hackers use them to gain access to sensitive data, breach security systems, and disrupt business operations. Cyber attackers aim to remain undetected during an attack until their activity becomes detectable by network administrators or another form of security software; in some cases, they have managed to remain undetected for months until being flushed out by security.
An attack known as Man in the Middle involves attackers intercepting communication between your company and external sites or between users within its internal networks and users outside. If communication protocols aren’t properly secured or hackers find ways around that security, hackers could intercept data being transmitted over networks as it’s being transmitted, as well as hijack sessions and spy on confidential conversations – leading them to steal this data as it travels over those same networks.
Drive-by downloads are another common type of network attack. Hackers look for unprotected websites and insert malicious scripts directly into their HTTP or PHP code so they can infect computers directly when someone visits it without their knowledge or consent. Similar scripts may also be embedded into email messages and pop-up windows in order to deliver malware undetected to users’ computers.
Distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) pose an ever-present risk to businesses of all kinds, especially smaller firms. Attackers use extensive networks of compromised devices to flood your servers or websites with fraudulent traffic and cause them to shut down or slow down, inducing costly downtime for services and websites alike.
Hackers have various network attacks available to them in order to gain access to encrypted data. When cracking cryptographic keys, hackers frequently exploit the birthday paradox – creating two inputs with similar hash values – or use brute force attacks in order to guess secret keys quickly.
An Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attack is an extremely damaging network attack, as it systematically roams your company’s systems for months or even years to steal information and gain unapproved entry. Hackers skilled in APT attacks often manage to avoid detection while their information could be used for various purposes, including industrial espionage.
Rogue access points are illegal wireless network connections used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information, including passwords, credit card numbers, and other confidential data. Hackers may also distribute malware via connected devices or attack other networks using these rogue access points without security staff’s knowledge or detection; often, these remain undetected within an organization for extended periods.
To detect rogue access points in your organization’s network, run regular network scans. However, remember that some alerts could be false positives; for instance, a laptop with dynamic IP may appear as if it’s connecting directly to the internet; therefore, it’s crucial that each AP your scan detects is documented thoroughly and recorded accordingly.
Unauthorized access points that operate in the same wireless spectrum as legitimate network connections may cause interference by increasing noise levels on either the same or nearby frequencies, creating serious interference issues for legitimate connections and broadcasting their SSID simultaneously. The threat is even more imminent when an illegal access point operates on frequency sharing with legitimate ones and shares their same service set identifier (SSID).
Public areas often feature multiple Wi-Fi SSIDs, which are displayed on user devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. When users attempt to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, their device automatically selects and selects the AP with the strongest signal strength; unknowingly connecting with an attacker who may spoof transactions or change personal information without user knowledge.
Rogue Access Points can be easily deployed by employees who lack proper cybersecurity awareness, while cybercriminals use tools like fake WiFi hotspot generators to create fake access points that pose a significant security risk to businesses. When your security team detects such an access point, they should immediately shut it down and take further measures to secure the network against cyber attacks; for instance, installing a dedicated firewall allowing only trusted connections into the network or creating and enforcing a strong password policy across your entire network can all help ward off these attempts at breaches.
Please share this post with your friends, family, or business associates who may encounter cybersecurity attacks.