Feeds

Mobile security needs to change with GPRS

Gap-Plugging

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Does the security architecture used in mobile networks need to change? Our question is sparked by the line-up of new products from security vendors announced at this week's GSM Congress.

Check Point Software announced a wireless security product family designed to ensure secure communications and roaming between mobile operators by protecting the gateway between operators' networks

FireWall-1 GX, the first product in the family, is based on the Israeli firm's stateful inspection technology and its Secure Virtual Network (SVN) architecture. It complies with GPRS standards.

With this product, operators can prevent abnormal or malformed packets from entering their mobile IP infrastructure, monitor traffic and enforce the integrity of "hand over" connections between roaming networks.

FireWall-1 GX is now available for Linux, Solaris open servers and Nokia security appliances.

To address concerns about wireless LAN security, Internet Security Systems yesterday announced a wireless security assessment solution, Wireless Scanner. The product adds automated wireless audits to the checks for wireless threats built into its existing wired network products.

The Wireless Scanner software, which will be available in March, detects 802.11 access points from inside and outside an organisation's physical site. By listening to wireless traffic over the air, the Wireless Scanner software is able to identify the unauthorised, often unsecured access points that might permit 'drive-by hacking'.

Security assessment, which detects whether security options such as encryption and authentication are enabled and properly configured, and reporting across client machines is also provided by the product. Wireless Scanner can be installed on laptops to simulate the activity of an off-site attacker when taken offsite, or allow admins to roam around a campus in search of risks.

According to Neil Barrett, technical director of security consultancy Information Risk Management, companies need to adopt a different security architecture with mobile networks than they use for wired environments.

Firms separate internal system from their Web servers using firewalls, with Internet systems sitting in a Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), protected from the Internet itself behind other perimeter security devices. Barrett advises organisations to set up GPRS or wireless LAN connections on a separate DMZ from that used for Internet connections.

This two-tiered DMZ approach is needed to provide a degree of traceability, Barrett argues; so firms enjoy some protection from the greatest risk of mobile networks - crackers impersonating a trusted partner (after gaining access to an insecure wireless network).

Independent security consultant Phil Cracknell takes a different line to Barrett, He points out that most attacks against Web sites are perpetrated in spite of a firewall; and the same applies to wireless networks. He argues that the firewall approach is limited.

"The effectiveness of these mobile devices depends upon what client-side security and authentication is included. These mobile firewalls are simply plugging a gap that should not be present in the first place. If there was better authentication and packet-level control we wouldn't rely so heavily on the barrier mentality," he told us.

"The same applies to BlueTooth and wireless LANs as it does to GPRS - the firewall needs to be the entire network, end-points and servers not just a given point on that infrastructure. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.