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NASA secures 802.11b

Sep 03, 2001, 17:17 (8 Talkback[s])

David Hill writes:

It seems that the inherent insecurities in the Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol for Wireless networks only increased the determination of the boffins over at NASA, who've managed to secure a wireless network with 'an off-the-shelf PC running the OpenBSD operating system, an Apache web server, the Internet Software Consortium DHCP server, the IPF firewall software -- all freeware.'

In this whitepaper, Nichole Boscia details how they met the objective of developing a 'Wireless Firewall Gateway'.

This is quite an achievement, considering 'recent conference results have established that 802.11b wireless systems provide no substantial security protection in any of three important respects: 1) The signal coverage perimeter cannot be easily limited to conform to an organization's physical control perimeter; 2) Wireless card hardware addresses cannot be trusted as tools to identify a user; and 3) Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption of data sent between a laptop and an access point can be cracked, regardless of key length.'

It also seems that the 'NASA method' of wireless networking also carries with it performance benefits as the disabling of the built-in security features of 802.11b reduces the load on the associated equipment, and instead allows the security of the network to be maintained by the network services provided by the gateway.

Very nifty. :-)