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Cisco Wireless LANs at risk from 'skyjacking' flaw

Catchily named vuln is all talk so far

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Security researchers have discovered a potential denial of service or information stealing flaw affecting Cisco's wireless networking kit.

The snappily-monikered skyjacking flaw affects lightweight Cisco wireless access points or networks running Over-the-Air-Provisioning (OTAP).

With OTAP enabled, newly connected Cisco access points listen in to an unencrypted multicast data stream to find the address of the nearest controller, which is used to manage access points. Much the same process happens if the established controller temporarily drops offline.

The approach creates a potential means for hackers to set up a counterfeit controller, which clients would connect onto once the legitimate controller is identified and hit by a denial of service attack, Dark Reading reports.

Wireless security specialist AirMagnet discovered the vulnerability in the lab. Real life exploits of the security weakness remain unlogged by AirMagnet or anyone else.

AirMagnet has informed Cisco of the vulnerability. While Cisco is evaluating the issue enterprises are advised to consider either disabling the OTAP feature or using wireless intrusion detection kit to mitigate against attack. Happily for all concerned, AirMagnet is a leading supplier of wireless IDS equipment.

Flaws in wireless networks seem to attract catchy monikers. After the Evil Twins attack of 2005, we had wi-phishing (phishing fraud using wireless network attack vectors). 'Cafe Latte' attacks and now a so-called skyjacking flaw. Catchy names attract attention and tend to result in a greater volume of press attention, sometimes irrespective of how serious a threat they pose in practice.

It may not have a catchy name but the flaw in the wireless network of TJX stores that allowed hackers to siphon off an estimated 40 million sets of credit and debit card account details is obviously much more important. ®

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