Wi-Fi threatened by security shortcomings

19 Aug 2004

The potentially bright future of Wi-Fi technology is threatened by serious security infrastructure weaknesses, according to research carried out by the Stevens Institute of Technology. A team led by assistant professor Susanne Wetzel has discovered ways of covertly attacking individual nodes within an ad hoc wireless network, resulting in disruption and power drains. Ad hoc nodes are seen as key to the development of advanced data networking schemes and wireless technologies such as VoIP. However, Wetzel’s team has raised the issue that in a society increasingly reliant on working communication infrastructure and networks based on ‘trustworthy collaboration among information routers’, such systems could become the target of terrorists and other criminals. The study uncovered two stealth attack methods: one in which the adversary could attempt to disconnect the network through a general partition, or the isolation of a specific node; and, secondly, where the adversary modifies the routing of information in order to hijack traffic from and to selected nodes.