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 pose a grave threat to your company’s data. If left undetected, hackers could use these unwittingly installed access points to gain unauthorized entry to your network and steal confidential information from it.
Documenting all access points in your wireless environment to easily distinguish them from rogue access points is key to keeping employees safe from joining inappropriate networks and becoming vulnerable to malware infections. Failing this, employees may unwittingly join networks that expose themselves to risk.
Table Of Contents
- How Can Rogue Access Points Be Installed By Anyone?
- How Can Rogue Access Points Be Used in a Coordinated Attack?
- How Can Rogue Access Points Be Used in a Man-In-The-Middle Attack?
- How Can Rogue Access Points Be Used to Launch a Denial-Of-Service Attack?
- How Rogue Access Points Could Lead to a Malware Deployment
Rogue access points, or unauthorized wireless network devices, can allow hackers to gain unauthorized entry to corporate wired infrastructures. They can be placed anywhere within a network or directly attached to wired devices like switches or routers – without going through security controls as authorized access points do – making companies vulnerable to attacks from spies and criminal hackers looking for an open entryway into enterprise systems.
Employees may unwittingly create an unauthorized wireless access point in the workplace without notifying IT. Employees could purchase and install low-cost access points from office supply stores without consulting with their IT department; this may provide additional wireless connections for tablet PCs or home laptops in conference rooms; it could even be done as an antidote for slow corporate Wi-Fi by connecting personal devices more quickly to wireless networks.
No matter the reason, it is crucial that at least every quarter, scans for unauthorized access points are performed and all locations scanned. Furthermore, staff should receive regular training on cybersecurity policies and practices.
Healthcare facilities, in particular, are at risk from rogue access points due to prioritizing patient safety over cyber hygiene. Hospitals frequently lack encryption protection on wireless networks and don’t adhere to proper network segmentation practices, in addition to not having a dedicated IT team for cyber security – all factors that increase employee error when connecting unknowingly to an unauthorized access point that exposes all healthcare networks for attack. Rogue access points may even spoof authorized AP’s name and MAC address to tempt employees into connecting.
An unauthorized network, commonly referred to as an access point, provides attackers with an uncontrolled backdoor channel into a network that bypasses security devices and allows attackers to intercept traffic. Such intrusive networks could have been installed either accidentally by employees who failed to notice their existence or intentionally by those with bad intent.
Rogue access points (APs) can be exploited by hackers to steal sensitive data or spread malware in an organization or cause denial-of-service attacks against its systems and applications. Unauthorized access points can be identified by using tools that analyze bridge forwarding tables for MAC addresses and then compare those detected MACs against its authorized list of APs for identification.
Malware installed via an illicit access point is often the preferred means of data theft, used to steal passwords and sensitive information from within a corporate network. Furthermore, it can download itself onto employee computers while connected to it – even after they disconnect.
Use software that scans for unused Ethernet wall ports as another means of detecting an unauthorized access point (AP). Look out for devices not authorized by your organization as well as vendor names that differ from that of authorized access points, with their MAC addresses and vendor names differing significantly from authorized APs. Lastly, ensure the access point does not use default settings that could expose it to attacks.
As part of your organization’s cybersecurity policy, create policies and procedures that require employees to report unlicensed Wi-Fi devices immediately to IT. Review these procedures on a regular basis, with quarterly audits. In addition, employees should receive education about cyber awareness, including reporting any rogue access points immediately to IT.
Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) offer many advantages for business applications yet also pose security threats that need to be mitigated. These risks include vulnerabilities, unapproved devices, and attacks from rogue access points (which operate outside authorized infrastructure and can be used to attack networks), as well as vulnerabilities caused by vulnerabilities within these devices themselves. Rogue access points pose an especially grave threat as they can eavesdrop on traffic or perform man-in-the-middle attacks if left unaddressed.
An attacker can install a rogue access point through various means, such as social engineering. An employee could, for instance, purchase and bring into their office a small wireless access point from a store – and then use this access point to gain entry to their company’s internal network. Rogue access points may also be used to create evil twin networks that mimic legitimate ones for monitoring network traffic and stealing personal information.
An unauthorized access point can be difficult to spot and contain, especially if they’re hidden or intentionally misconfigured. This poses a problem for organizations using scanning tools to search for these access points; to be effective at finding these threats, it’s advisable to regularly scan for these access points at least quarterly while making sure your tools can identify thin and thick APs.
If you want to locate an unwelcome access point, use NetStumbler on a laptop to measure its signal strength. As you approach, its strength will increase; use this information to pinpoint where exactly to look. Or alternatively, use a handheld radio (though physical presence in the area will likely be necessary).
Wireless local area networks (WLANs) offer great flexibility; however, they are vulnerable to vulnerabilities and attacks from rogue devices that are not authorized by network administrators. Such devices, referred to as rogue access points, present significant security threats to any organization as they can be used for denial-of-service attacks, data theft, or malware deployment – to combat this threat, organizations must create an action plan to identify and eliminate rogue access points as soon as they occur.
Sniffer tools or wireless intrusion detection systems are effective ways of spotting unauthorized access points in an area. These systems constantly monitor wireless signals in the air and compare them with a list of valid devices to determine whether any illegal access points exist – providing network administrators with enough evidence of potential threat devices before any harmful data transmission takes place.
An alternative solution involves using a product that uses wired corporate networks to monitor wireless environments. Such products listen for authorized access points throughout a facility before sending the results back to a central console – eliminating the need for network administrators to physically search through the facility for unapproved access points.
Hackers may take advantage of rogue access points to steal data and personal information from employees connected to wireless networks, leading to identity theft and fraud that is hard for businesses to recover from. Furthermore, rogue access points could even download malware onto client devices like routers or cameras connected to the wireless network.
As most rogue access points are installed by employees who lack an understanding of cyber security protocols, it is vitally important that staff is made aware of potential risks. A time-limited amnesty program could enable employees to alert management of any unauthorized access points they find; additionally, providing staff with ongoing cybersecurity and business etiquette training could prove extremely helpful.
Rogue access points (RAPs) can be used to launch various forms of malware attacks, such as denial-of-service and data theft. Rogue devices typically consist of inexpensive routers installed into networks without their knowledge or approval; their presence cannot be detected through wired networking channels alone but instead must be identified using wireless air space scanning techniques. Attackers frequently utilize these types of routers because employees often plug them in with good intentions – perhaps for personal Wi-Fi extensions at home or to speed up corporate Wi-Fi.
These devices create backdoor access points for outsiders into a private network and bypass network firewalls, leaving the company vulnerable to attack. Hackers specifically targeting your company could find these access points, while attackers searching for vulnerable networks (known as war-driving) could find them, too.
Once an unauthorized router connects to a corporate network, the threat can become extremely dangerous. Malware installed on an unauthorized access point may then be installed onto client devices for use against the corporate network via social engineering – an approach where hackers bypass physical security in order to plug an illegal device into an open network port within the building.
To combat this problem, an organization should implement a reliable RF scan system that continuously monitors their wireless environment and detects any devices not affiliated with their network. They should also implement procedures to identify suspicious devices quickly so that relevant personnel are informed.
Please share this post with your friends, family, or business associates who may encounter cybersecurity attacks.