CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

Wireless Integrated Secure Data Options Model (WISDOM) for Converged Network Security

Date of Award

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

James D. Cannady

Committee Member

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

John A. Scigliano

Abstract

There is a significant need for a comprehensive network security methodology that integrates wired and wireless and addresses the characteristics and security requirements of these converged technologies. This work presents a model developed by the author and is known as the Wireless Secure Data Options Model (WISDOM). An extensive literature review has shown wireless converged networks are subject to security vulnerabilities and risks. This dissertation proposes a security model to mitigate or eliminate these risks. The literature review identified the 802.11 Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) as the most vulnerable and critical node in wireless converged network security. WLANs can easily be reconfigured, are very mobile, allow for potentially continuous exposure, and require the security profile to be scrutinized even more than is required for wired networks. This includes inherent security flaws known to exist in 802.11 architecture that result in additional risks to otherwise secure converged networks. An even worse scenario to consider is one where an insecure WLAN is connected to a weakly secured or insecure wired network and the wireless subnet is not separated from the wired subnet.

After evaluating the security vulnerabilities and risks in 802.11 WLANs, risk mitigation solutions were identified and associated with taxonomic structures that form the basis for WISDOM. WISDOM provides three tiered security options with proper hardware, software, and security requirements delineated to secure a WLAN at a corresponding security levels equivalent to the wired network it connects with. A testing matrix with specific procedures to replicate and test WISDOM in a real world environment was developed from the literature research. A well-known testing lab, The PKI Group, used this matrix to independently test WISDOM and record the results. The dissertation includes an analysis of the behavior of WISDOM in an operational environment based on the results of the independent testing. The dissertation also provides documentation for researchers in industry who are equipped with the appropriate corporate or laboratory resources to build, operationally test, and subsequently apply WISDOM in a converged network environment. WISDOM will make a major contribution in the field of converged WLAN and wired security.

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