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Aruba Repelled Over 8,000 Wireless Hacks At Black Hat

Black Hat USA 2011 top
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Aruba Networks’ military grade MOVE architecture was deployed over three wireless networks at Black Hat

Aruba Networks detected and contained more than 8,790 security events over the wireless networks it deployed for the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, the company said.

The attacks included “670 rogues, 191 AP flood attacks, 489 instances of AP spoofing, 579 instances of IP spoofing, 1,659 ‘Hotspotter’ attacks and 1,799 ‘Block ACK’ attacks”, Aruba said. Hotspotter refers to a tool used to create a phony access points with phishing pages to capture login credentials, launch man-in-the-middle attacks and infect hosts. Block ACK is a type of denial-of-service attack against wireless clients.

Three Bolted Down Options

Aruba maintained three different wireless networks for Black Hat, including one WPA-protected network, one PEAP network that required users to self-register, and one EAP-TLS network with Aruba’s Mobile Device Access Control built-in for users with iOS devices.

Signs listing the correct network SSID and the key necessary to access the main PSK network were posted at regular intervals throughout the conference. Users interested in the PEAP and EAP-TLS secured networks had to accept certificates before getting network access.

“This scheme seemed to work very well in a hostile environment like Black Hat with no pre-established trust in users or secure means to provision credentials,” said Robbie Gill, an Adobe engineer.

The Aruba controller was configured to block all spoofing attacks and users were not allowed to communicate with each other on the network to “protect them from each other”, Gill said.

Move Towards Wire-Grade Security

The wireless network for the conference was based on the Aruba Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture. MOVE supports the Suite B cryptography developed by the National Security Agency to secure sensitive information on commercial communications products, making it possible to create a mobile infrastructure that could be just as secure as wired networks, Patrick Guerin, CTO of Key Management Systems, told eWEEK.

“Government agencies need a solution that combines commercial technology with stronger underlying cryptographic algorithms,” Guerin said.

Employees working with highly sensitive or classified data will be able to use commercial mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices, to securely access classified networks through MOVE, Travis Howerton, CTO of the National Nuclear Security Administrator, told eWEEK. With Suite B support, NNSA can deploy sensors in classified environments to collect data and transmit them back to the agency securely, Howerton said. They would not have to have people make rounds to collect the data, which would reduce costs.

Developed by the National Security Agency, Suite B is based on the same AES algorithm as the 802.11i security built into wireless radio chips, but is also wrapped up in multiple layers, much like a “combination lock”, Guerin said. Attackers trying to crack Suite B would have to break the digital signature, AES encryption, SHA-secure hash and the Elliptical Curve Diffie-Helman cryptographic algorithm all at once to be able to see the content being protected, he said.

Providing this support for classified environments is significant because it allows government employees to use mobile devices to access both classified and unclassified networks, Guerin said.

Arbua’s device fingerprinting capabilities also yielded some interesting statistics on what kind of devices were being used on the wireless network at Black Hat. Apple devices were the most prevalent at Black Hat, accounting for 43.3 percent of all devices. Approximately 65 percent of Apple devices used were iOS devices such as the iPad or iPhone, while the remainder were running OS X, according to Aruba. Linux users were the second most prevalent, with 35 percent, followed by Windows devices at 21.8 percent.

Over 2,400 attendees accessed the wireless network, with as many as 853 concurrent users, Aruba said. While the majority of the attendees use the main PSK network, about 200 attendees used the PEAP or EAP-TLS secured network. More than 30 Aruba AP-134 access points were deployed over 200,000 square feet in the Caesar’s Palace conference centre.