Wi-Fi networks suffer ‘autoimmune’ attacks

August 4, 2008 – 7:08 AM

JUST as the body’s immune system sometimes mistakenly attacks its own cells, so the security software intended to protect network users can be fooled into attacking them. This could make attacks by hackers even harder to detect and prevent.

Security software typically prevents unauthorised access by encrypting most of the data transmitted across a network, preventing hackers from exploiting it to cause trouble. However, the administrative commands used to authorise or exclude users are usually sent “in the clear”, for simplicity’s sake.

That means hackers can use fake commands to disconnect users, in so-called denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. To try to prevent this, security software is designed to check that messages are valid before they’re relayed to users and acted upon.


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