CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

James L. Parrish

Committee Member

James D. Cannady

Committee Member

Bennet Hammer

Abstract

Users and providers benefit considerably from public Wi-Fi hotspots. Users receive wireless Internet access and providers draw new prospective customers. While users are able to enjoy the ease of Wi-Fi Internet hotspot networks in public more conveniently, they are more susceptible to a particular type of fraud and identify theft, referred to as evil twin attack (ETA). Through setting up an ETA, an attacker can intercept sensitive data such as passwords or credit card information by snooping into the communication links. Since the objective of free open (unencrypted) public Wi-Fi hotspots is to provide ease of accessibility and to entice customers, no security mechanisms are in place. The public’s lack of awareness of the security threat posed by free open public Wi-Fi hotspots makes this problem even more heinous. Client-side systems to help wireless users detect and protect themselves from evil twin attacks in public Wi-Fi hotspots are in great need. In this dissertation report, the author explored the problem of the need for client-side detection systems that will allow wireless users to help protect their data from evil twin attacks while using free open public Wi-Fi. The client-side evil twin attack detection system constructed as part of this dissertation linked the gap between the need for wireless security in free open public Wi-Fi hotspots and limitations in existing client-side evil twin attack detection solutions. Based on design science research (DSR) literature, Hevner’s seven guidelines of DSR, Peffer’s design science research methodology (DSRM), Gregor’s IS design theory, and Hossen & Wenyuan’s (2014) study evaluation methodology, the author developed design principles, procedures and specifications to guide the construction, implementation, and evaluation of a prototype client-side evil twin attack detection artifact. The client-side evil twin attack detection system was evaluated in a hotel public Wi-Fi environment. The goal of this research was to develop a more effective, efficient, and practical client-side detection system for wireless users to independently detect and protect themselves from mobile evil twin attacks while using free open public Wi-Fi hotspots. The experimental results showed that client-side evil twin attack detection system can effectively detect and protect users from mobile evil twin AP attacks in public Wi-Fi hotspots in various real-world scenarios despite time delay caused by many factors.

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