Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Meru secures leaky wireless LANs

By flooding the car park with bogus traffic.

Article comments

Meru Networks is using Wi-Fi signals to "cloak" wireless LANs and make it impossible for hackers to decipher them outside the office building.

"Parking lot attacks" are a widely reported wireless security risk, in which hackers outside the building eavesdrop on wireless LAN traffic that leaks out of the building. Most security systems should prevent hackers from accessing the network or making other active attacks, but there is no way to stop attackers passively recording leaked signals, or to detect them doing it. Hackers can then use this data to assist in attacks, or derive company information.

Wi-Fi LANs with no encryption or running the obsolete WEP system, can also be accessed from directly from outside the building, a technique reportedly used in an attack that retailer TJX $188 million. Although WEP is obsolete, it is still in use for some devices such as handheld terminals and VoIP phones.

Meru's RF Barrier positions four directional antennas on the outside of the building, and four extra access points on the inside of those walls. "RF Barrier works by detecting when the transmission of sensitive data occurs between the client and the access point inside the building, and then using the outside directional antenna to transmit different, innocuous data to the parking lot," said Rachna Ahlawat, vice president of marketing at Meru. "The real data and the innocuous data combine and become useless."

Alternatives to this approach include physically blocking the radio signals, using electrical conductors to make the building into a "Faraday Cage", using metal mesh, or using RF-blocking paints and putting a special film on the windows. "Both approaches are expensive and therefore not widely used," said Ahlawat.

The directional antennas mean RF Barrier signals are only projected outside the building, and have no affect on the wireless LAN within the building. Neighbouring WLANs should also be unaffected, as the system only sends legitimate 802.11 frames on channels that the Meru WLAN is already occupying. The barrier can also be turned off, during periods when the company needs wireless access around the building.

"Our Nokia Wi-Fi smart phones handle sensitive voice calls as well as confidential emails and contact information," said Chris Nowak, chief technology officer at an early user, Chicago-based wholesaler Anthony Marano Company. "With our warehouse adjacent to an interstate highway and other major roads, no one is comfortable with blasting a Wi-Fi signal all over the place. RF Barrier lets us decide exactly where we want to draw the border around the coverage area, and we know that the information stops right here."

RF Barrier will be available in September 2008 for Meru's 802.11a/b/g networks, costing $3,595 (£1,806) for four antennas, four access points, cables and software licences. The company's security portfolio also includes rogue prevention, a policy-based firewall, the ability to block applications such as Skype, location-based policy enforcement and secure remote access points for branch offices.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *