Suppose I have a picture that I have been given. This picture is not something that the owner wants shown to the world so they have given me a list of people that can see it. When someone wants to see it I ask them who they are and if their name is on the list I show it to them. However, this plan is not working out that well so the owner decides to add some requirements. Now when someone wants to see the picture they have to show ID. Still people are getting around that with fake IDs, so now the owner gives out a special code word that is unique to each person while still maintaining the requirement for ID. To make things even more secure I have a picture of each person and a copy of their ID. What I have described here is a very simple explanation of the way that some of the different levels of encryption work; from the very basic to much more complex routines. In this article we will be talking about encryption as it relates to wireless access points and we can tell you up front you will be surprised at how insecure some of them are.
One of the biggest items we have talked about is the mentality of companies when it comes to protecting their customers. Sure, they will spend a little money to offer some rudimentary protection, but in the end if they can get away with not spending money to keep things safe, well they will. This pattern has been shown time and time again with multiple services online, at banks (think ATM hacks) and pretty much anywhere there is a way to talk to the computer systems in question. Now, a pair of researchers has found that Time Warner, Comcast, Cox and probably many more are barely providing security for their customers who use their recommended hardware.
Security is the bane of every network in the world. It is the reason why so many IT technicians end up burnt out or (in the case of men) bald. We all know that the only secure system is one that does not allow anything (and I mean ANYTHING) to connect, or input to the system. As soon as you connect a system to any type of input device or medium (say a network/the Internet) you open up vulnerabilities.
Even the most sophisticated firewall can be gotten around with time, effort and some creativity. This is all just the wired networks; we have not even begun to talk about wireless networks. These handy security holes create a whole new level stress for the IT technician. After all with not much more than a laptop and the right Lunix ISO you can grab packets out of the air and find out the WEP, WPA and if you are patient enough even WPA2 keys. True you can add RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service) and certificates into the mix if you have the budget, but what about the home user? Or even better… what about our cellular networks?
For a long time it was thought that wireless could be secured with simple encryption and trusted networks. Then we found that these data packets can be intercepted in route and either spoofed or blocked creating a security breach. This, in extremely simplistic terms, is a Man-in-the-Middle attack and it is a very dangerous one.
Fortunately some researchers at MIT have developed a protocol that can potentially prevent these be encoding a specific transmission sequence in the originating packet. The sequence is a series of ones and zeros (data and silence) that when put together indicate to the receiving party that this is the correct sender. It does this in multiple ways to prevent, blocking, Collision, and spoofing of packets which are used by the most common Man-in-the-Middle attacks. The nice thing about this new protocol is that it can be applied to almost any network including both 4G network types.
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