Interview with Cyrus Peikari, CEO of AirScanner Mobile Security
by Mirko Zorz - Monday, 24 February 2003.
Dr. Peikari is the CEO of AirScanner Mobile Security and co-author of the book "Maximum Wireless Security" from SAMS Publishing. He finished his formal training with honors in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University in 1991. For eight years Dr. Peikari taught advanced mathematics at the SMU Learning Enhancement Center in Dallas, Tx. He has previously worked as a telecommunications software research and development engineer for Alcatel. He is a frequent speaker at information security and technology conferences, including DefCon and NetSec. He has co-authored five best selling network security books - three of them as lead author - and he has published several award-winning security software programs.

How did you get interested in wireless security?

I have been an avid UNIX user for over 20 years. However, in recent years I became interested in Windows, and I was horrified by its lack of security, so I wanted to make a difference. I started with reverse code engineering (RCE) and in 1998 was part of the first Trojan RCE project at +Fravia's website. As with most old reverse engineers, the natural progression was to later move into network security.

From then I was inspired to move into wireless security by some of the early Wardriver pioneers, such as Wuming. The growth of free community wireless networks is also a constant inspiration. Future historians will likely remember early pioneers such as Ken Caruso as the heroes of the golden age of free networks. Security that is useful and accessible will be paramount to the sustained growth of community wireless networks.

How long did it take you to write "Maximum Wireless Security" and what was it like? Any major difficulties?

Seth Fogie and I actually "squeezed it out" much faster than any of our other books. Unlike our previous security books, this one came 100% straight from the heart. Wireless security is what we live and breathe, so the words flowed naturally. Our book is unique because it is the "closest to the street", e.g., it goes into the most technical detail about cracking WEP and tells you exactly how to Wardrive, step by step. After publication we were surprised to see it jump to #1 out of all wireless security books on the market, but for this I give credit to the early Wardrivers who were the inspiration for the text.

What are your favorite tools for dealing with security when it comes to wireless networks and why?

For UNIX, right now Kismet is King. Each release of Kismet continues to be more and more impressive. However, for Windows we are becoming less and less impressed. Vendors keep raising their prices (who has $1,000 to spend on a simple CE sniffer?) and their products are becoming buggy and difficult to use. To address this, we are writing our own (hopefully better) software, and we plan to release it as freeware for non-commercial use.

Despite the insecurities of 802.11, the number of wireless networks is growing rapidly. What should be done in order to raise awareness of wireless security problems?

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