DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) - Otherwise known as dynamic IP addressing DHCP allows a network to join the internet without a preset IP address.
DHCP is a utility that assigns the IP address to devices as they enter the network in an ad hoc or dynamic basis then releases that IP address for reuse once the device departs active network participation. In this way, the logged on unit never has a “static” IP address. Similarly home wireless network routers support DHCP to make development and utilization of the home wireless network more convenient and less complicated.
Assessing the Threat
There are a couple of ways a hacker or someone who is looking to steal or otherwise misuse your home wireless network can infiltrate your system. The first one is through “eavesdropping” and other is what is called a DOS attack.
Eavesdropping as the name implies involves utilizing tools and listening software utilities that have been easy to find since before wireless came along to capture the traffic that is passing through the air in your home wireless network. If the data contained in those packets is not encrypted a wealth of information about you can be captured about you. This includes login names, passwords and credit card information.
Encryption and use of the built in security measures described in this paper are excellent defenses against eavesdropping.
The second most prevalent attack is called a Denial of Service or DOS attack. In a DOS attack the hacker introduces noise or interference into the wireless network from without which artificially causes devices within the network to fail or issues a Denial of Service response to contact from other devices in the network.
Attackers can use these DOS signals to gather SSID and other important network addressing data that can be used to mount a more intrusive attack down the road.
You and Your SSID
In a wireless network implementation there are three ways to set the SSID for network communications. (1) The SSID can be set manually, (2) the SSID can be left the default that your network hardware provider set it to when your equipment was shipped or (3) The SSID can be generated automatically.
Wireless components such as routers and other access point devices provide a methodology for changing the SSID for network access.
The devices will usually come with a default SSID that is easy to figure out such as the company name or “default”. So the first step in securing your network is to change the default SSID that came with your wireless access point device.
Now when deciding upon an SSID name for your network, remember to make it something difficult to figure out. Do not use your last name, a name of your pet or your favorite Star Wars character.
By subscribing to our early morning news update, you will receive a daily digest of the latest security news published on Help Net Security.
With over 500 issues so far, reading our newsletter every Monday morning will keep you up-to-date with security risks out there.