Wi-Fi Direct launches today, is security an issue?

Today the Wi-Fi Alliance has launched Wi-Fi Direct. Wi-Fi Direct allows devices to connect directly to each other without the need for an existing network. The devices will basically function like a P2P network between each other.

The Wi-Fi Direct functionality will be available from vendors like Cisco, Apple, and Intel starting today. The first cards that have made it through the certification are as follows:

  • Atheros XSPAN® Dual-band 802.11n PCIe Mini Card (AR928x)
  • Broadcom BCM43224 Dual-Band 802.11n 2×2 MIMO PCIe Half Mini Card
  • Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6200
  • Ralink MIMObility 802.11n 2×2 PCIe Half Mini Card
  • Realtek RTL8192CE-VA4 HM92C00 PCIe mini card

Wi-Fi direct supports WPA2 security unlike the traditional WEP provided on an Ad-hoc network. An Ad-hoc network was traditionally used to accomplish the tasks that are available simultaneously with Wi-Fi direct between your access point and device.

These Wi-Fi Direct devices are supposed to be able to connect to your access point and another device simultaneously. This functionality can be very helpful but can it also open up a security hole in your network?

With this new technology and the same with the original Wi-Fi technology you are susceptible to a man in the middle attack. A man in the middle attack is where someone can grab your SSID and broadcast it at a higher signal strength or power to force your computer to connect to them instead of what they were supposed to. Thus when the computer is forced to connect the attacker can intercept all of the traffic on the network without the user even noticing.

I brought this up because with Wi-Fi direct you are able to connect simultaneously to both your network and a P2P device or Wi-Fi Direct. So if someone attacked your Wi-Fi Direct connection, couldn’t they then tunnel into your existing network through that connection that they have created? Correct me if I am wrong but I think this is possible. Although the technology is a great leap forward I feel that I still need to make people aware of the inherent security issues that exist in Wi-Fi technology.

Source: Wi-Fi Alliance

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