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Exposed: The Hidden Threat Of Rogue Access Points

By Tom Seest

What Are The Dangers Of Rogue Access Points In Cyber Security?

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An unapproved access point can pose a severe security risk to any business. These devices allow hackers to gain entry and steal data, download malware on employee machines, and reduce internet speed significantly, leading to reduced revenue generation for the organization.
Physically protecting your network is the first step to stopping rogue access points from emerging, which includes conducting regular sweeps through your facility and verifying that no network devices are directly plugged into an active port.

What Are The Dangers Of Rogue Access Points In Cyber Security?

What Are The Dangers Of Rogue Access Points In Cyber Security?

What Makes a Rogue Access Point a Major Threat?

Hackers employ malicious access points to monitor networks and obtain data. Furthermore, hackers use portals created with compromised wireless access points to upload viruses, key loggers, or pornographic material – this is an imminent threat that should be regularly tested to reduce its risks. To stay ahead of this problem, organizations should conduct frequent wireless access point testing to assess risk management strategies.
An unauthorized access point (rogue AP) can refer to any device that broadcasts and connects without authorization to a network through WiFi signal transmission, whether that be directly by attackers or mobile phones set up as hotspots/tethering connections. Rogue access points can even be created by authorized users who misconfigure their router or set up wireless USB adapters that act as unapproved APs.
Rogue access points (APs) may appear legitimate by sharing the same SSID as your company’s secure network, but they are unmonitored and unmanaged, leaving them open to hackers who can capture traffic from them and exploit their vulnerabilities to attack infrastructure or internal systems. A rogue AP may even act as an “Evil Twin,” drawing in employees by being configured so it appears similar to one trusted by your organization in order to trick them into connecting to it and providing their authentication credentials – leaving your organization exposed.
Rogue access points (APs) can have an enormous effect on network bandwidth usage, which is why having an effective and centralized wireless monitoring solution in place is key for protecting company networks. There are various vendors offering products designed specifically to detect these unwanted devices quickly while preventing access from intruders entering. Scan the whole environment from one console connected directly to your wired switch without sending staff around facilities – eliminating employees having to manually roam about.
Implement a program to encourage staff to report any unauthorized access points they discover without bullying them into doing it or making them feel guilty for creating security risks. Instead, establish a time-limited amnesty period so they can use this opportunity to notify you about any suspect activity they discover.

What Makes a Rogue Access Point a Major Threat?

What Makes a Rogue Access Point a Major Threat?

Is Your Network at Risk? Detecting a Rogue Access Point

Rogue access points pose a significant threat to businesses. Hackers can use them to monitor private networks for data or install malware without their victim’s knowledge, especially if one of the devices configured as Wi-Fi hotspots or tethering tools for mobile phones and tablets is configured incorrectly. Rogue access points can be an immense headache for IT security teams; thankfully there are ways they can be detected.
One way of detecting rogue access points is through wireless scanning tools, which create a database of authorized access points by recording their MAC addresses, then scan for those that match this list – this process may be time consuming in large facilities with multiple buildings. Wired monitoring technologies that connect directly to network switches and routers may also detect such instances by tracking differences in timing between employee requests for connection on wired networks and when servers respond in response.
To reduce rogue access points, the best method is educating employees on cyber risks and creating policies prohibiting their installation. Furthermore, using zero trust strategies such as segmenting networks into separate VLANs could help limit how many devices can access a main system at any one time.
There are various easy methods of detecting an untrustworthy AP in a multi-vendor network environment. Utilizing network management software with an integrated poller such as SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor may be one such means, capable of scanning thin and thick APs clientless and captive mode at various intervals for scanning purposes.
As you near a malicious access point (AP), its signal strength increases. To easily detect such devices, simply hold your laptop at abdomen level while walking around and monitor signal strength as you go – this process only takes minutes and doesn’t require any special equipment!

Is Your Network at Risk? Detecting a Rogue Access Point

Is Your Network at Risk? Detecting a Rogue Access Point

Are You at Risk? Detecting an Evil Twin in Cyber Security

Rogue access points (commonly referred to as Evil Twins) are wireless devices deployed by cyber adversaries with the intent of bypassing security procedures and gaining entry to networks. This form of cyber attack allows hackers to gain entry, steal sensitive data, intercept traffic, and engage in other illegal activities that cost businesses money.
Hackers typically set up an evil twin access point that broadcasts the same SSID, placing it closer to users than its authorized counterpart to ensure devices automatically select it – thus giving hackers complete control over both the device and its data.
Once a device connects to an evil twin Wi-Fi network, hackers will use it to gather login credentials and other private information, including financial details, if the user conducts online banking while connected. This data could then be used for identity theft or even to conduct illegal transactions that cause real financial loss.
A policy designed to discourage employees from connecting their personal devices to work-related networks can help mitigate this problem. Signing in using corporate credentials should also be required, while using managed switches with disabled ports will further hinder attempts by employees to plug in rogue access points.
Utilizing a wireless scanning tool like NetStumbler on a laptop is another option to locate rogue access points; just take your laptop in the direction of its strongest signal and walk towards it; soon enough, you will know where its source lies.
Anticipatory security detection is an integral component of any security system, and by taking the time to regularly review for suspicious access points you can reduce the risk of malicious attacks against your company and reduce potential consequences.

Are You at Risk? Detecting an Evil Twin in Cyber Security

Are You at Risk? Detecting an Evil Twin in Cyber Security

Can You Spot a Rogue Access Point?

Hackers have many methods available to them for installing an illicit access point. One is physical access to a network facility and plugging an externally-sourced wireless access point into a network port inside its facility, potentially giving access to employees with laptops automatically connecting with it – possibly giving away sensitive data to hackers in return.
Rogue access points could also be installed by employees within an organization, for instance, staff who purchase inexpensive wireless devices from discount retailers and install them in their office to connect their own personal devices to the business’ Wi-Fi network. Although such installations might have good intentions, such actions are considered illegal since they’re outside the control of system administrators.
Rogue access points may also pose a significant threat. An unauthorized access point could, for instance, be configured to transmit beacons with the same SSID as a legitimate company wireless network and this “evil twin” tactic could cause authorized users to connect their devices to it and provide their authentication credentials directly to attackers.
NetStumbler wireless vulnerability scanning software provides the most effective means of detecting a rogue access point. A security professional can use this software to hunt for unknown access points within their facility by walking around and looking out for those producing strong signals; once identified, these rogue access points can be shut off to stop further attacks on networks.
As organizations look to put into effect robust wireless vulnerability scanning solutions, it’s equally essential that they educate their staff about the dangers associated with installing unauthorized access points and why it is imperative that they report them immediately. A time-boxed amnesty program may help staff report such points more readily – though its language must avoid making employees feel like they’re being punished for making mistakes.

Can You Spot a Rogue Access Point?

Can You Spot a Rogue Access Point?

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