Network Security and Wireless Connections: Authentication Attacks

Wireless Network Attacks: Explained

Authentication Attacks is the subject of this article and is explained in the section that follows. For an explanation of Access Control Attacks and Integrity Attacks, see part 1 of the article (List of Wireless Network Attacks – Part1), and for an explanation of Confidentiality Attacks and Availability Attacks, see part 2 of the article (List of Wireless Network Attacks – Part2).

Computer Network (by jscreationzs)

Wireless technology has proven convenient for many computer users; but like with wired connections, the network still may be insecure and susceptible to attacks. With wireless communication, it has implications in regards to security because the radio signals can be intercepted as they travel through the air. Thus, it makes wireless signals much vulnerable to attacks than wired connections. Therefore, wireless networking requires users to strengthen Access Control and Authentication.

Attention! The first line of defense is awareness: to understand "Network Security" and the type of attack. Then, a computer user should find the correct countermeasures to defend or prevent the type of wireless network attack. There are several tools (noted in this article) to prevent them. However, the best method may just be to use strong authentication (e.g., digital certificates and encryption)!

Types of Authentication Attacks and Tools Used to Prevent Them

As the name suggests, authentication attacks are initiated by intruders who expolit others in order to steal the identity of the users' personal information, login credentials and authentication passwords to gain access to valuable resources. Authentication is one of the processes of preventing an outsider from gaining access to a user’s account or information and reusing it to impersonate them.

Awareness tip: To protect one's identity, effective authentication is required between hosts. Authentication should only be between trusted hosts and users.

Advice: Don't allow access to unauthenticated users, if you can help it.

Here are the different types of authentication attacks:

  • Shared Key Guessing. An intruder by use of various cracking tools tries to guess the shared key of a wireless network and gain access to it. These tools make use of brute force technique (trying different combinations in real time) in order to make guessing of a shared key.

Tools Used: WEP Cracking tools

  • PSK Cracking. PSK stands for Pre Shared key. A shared key can be in any format: a pass phrase or anything else. A PSK is a key that has already been shared. The attacker tries to intercept the successful handshake and then uses a dictionary attack to retrieve the shared key.

Tools Used: KisMAC, coWPAtty, wpa_crack and genpmk

  • Application Login Theft. Here, the attackers try to steal the login credentials of a user like email address, username and password from application protocol.

Tools Used: PHoss , Ace Password Sniffer, WinSniffer and Dsniff

  • Domain Login Cracking. Attacking the domain names and retrieving the user credentials like username and password with the help of network sniffing tools. Such tools make use of brute force technique to gain access to user credentials.

Tools Used: L0phtCrack , John the Ripper and Cain

  • VPN Login Cracking. Cracking usernames and passwords by executing brute force attacks on VPN protocols.

Tools Used: ike_crack (IPsec) & ike_scan, THC-pptp-bruter and anger

  • 802.1X Identity Theft. The packets sent by the 802.1x protocol in response is captured by an attacker to crack user credentials.

Tools Used: Capturing Tools

  • 802.1X Password Speculation. After an attacker intercepts an identity, he/she continuously guesses the password in order to pass authentication.

Tools Used: Password dictionary and other tools

  • 802.1X LEAP Cracking. The attacker captures the LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol) packets and then cracks the user credentials from it.

Tools Used: Asleap, Anwrap and THC-LEAPcracker

  • 802.1X EAP Downgrade. Using this technique, an attacker forces the server to offer a weaker type of authentication by issuing continuous NAK/EAP packets in response. NAK stands for Negative Acknowledgement.

Tools Used: libradiate and File2air


  • Image: FreeDigitalPhotos – Computer Network (by jscreationzs)
  • Authentication Hacking Attacks,

This post is part of the series: List of Wireless Network Attacks

In this series of articles related to List of Wireless Network Attacks, I will highlight different types of wireless network attacks, various tools or methods commonly used by attackers, technical terms associated with each type of attack and how a computer user can detect such attacks..
  1. List of Wireless Network Attacks – Part 1
  2. List of Wireless Network Attacks – Part 2
  3. List of Wireless Network Attacks – Part 3