Enhancing the Security of Corporate Wi-Fi Networks Using DAIR

ACM/USENIX Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (MobiSys) |

Published by Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.

We present a framework for monitoring enterprise wireless networks using desktop infrastructure. The framework is called DAIR, which is short for Dense Array of Inexpensive Radios. We demonstrate that the DAIR framework is useful for detecting rogue wireless devices (e.g., access points) attached to corporate networks, as well as for detecting Denial of Service attacks on Wi-Fi networks.

Prior proposals in this area include monitoring the network via a combination of access points (APs), mobile clients, and dedicated sensor nodes. We show that a dense deployment of sensors is necessary to effectively monitor Wi-Fi networks for certain types of threats, and one can not accomplish this using access points alone. An ordinary, single-radio AP can not monitor multiple channels effectively, without adversely impacting the associated clients. Moreover, we show that a typical deployment of access points is not sufficiently dense to detect the presence of rogue wireless devices. Due to power constraints, mobile devices can provide only limited assistance in monitoring wireless networks. Deploying a dense array of dedicated sensor nodes is an expensive proposition.

Our solution is based on two simple observations. First, in most enterprise environments, one finds plenty of desktop machines with good wired connectivity, and spare CPU and disk resources. Second, inexpensive USB-based wireless adapters are commonly available. By attaching these adapters to desktop machines, and dedicating the adapters to the task of monitoring the wireless network, we create a low cost management infrastructure.