Phishing on Open WLANs: Threat and Preventive Measure

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Virginia Tech

Phishing is an internet security issue whose shape is still changing and size is still increasing. This thesis shows the possibility of a phishing attack on open, private Wireless LANs. Private WLANs which use a login page to authenticate users in hotels, airports and academic campuses are all vulnerable to this attack. Virginia Tech's WLAN is used as an example to show that the attack is possible. The attack combines two very well known attacks: one is to deceptively guide a user into logging into a fake website, which shows similar log-in page to the page of the website the user intends to go to, and the second attack is to show users a valid certificate, which does not show a warning. The rogue server takes the user to a log-in page which is similar to Virginia Tech's log-in page and shows him a valid security certificate.

We present a solution to the proposed problem. Software is implemented that runs on Windows Vista. The software warns the user if there are servers with more than one type of security certificates, claiming to be from the same network. We contrast our method to already existing methods, and show in what respects our solution is better. The biggest advantage of this method is that it involves no change on the server side. It is not necessary for the users to have any prior knowledge of the network, which is very helpful when the users access WLAN at airports and hotels. Also, when using this method, the user does not need to connect to any network, and is still able to get a warning. It however, requires the user to be able to differentiate between the real and fake networks after the user has been warned.

Phishing, Rogue AP, SSL, Certificate