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Why Does Wi-Foo Exist and for Whom Did We Write It?

There are multiple white papers and books available on wireless security (only two years ago you would have hardly found any). Many of them, including this book, are centered around 802.11 standards. Most explain the built-in security features of 802.11 protocols, explain future 802.11 security standards development and requirements, list (and sometimes describe in detail) known security weaknesses of 802.11 networks, and describe the countermeasures that a wireless network manager or system administrator can take to reduce the risks presented by these flaws. However, all books (except this one) do not describe how "hackers" can successfully attack wireless networks and how system administrators can detect and defeat these attacks, step by step, as the actual attack takes place.

We believe that the market needs above all else a hands-on, down-to-earth source on penetration testing of wireless networks. Such a source should come from the field and be based on the practical experience of penetrating a great number of client and testing wireless networks, an experience that many in the underground and few in the information security community possess. As a core of the Arhont wireless security auditing team, we perform wireless penetration testing on an almost daily basis and we hope that our experience will give you a good jump start on practical wireless security assessment and further network hardening.

If you are a curious individual who just got a PCMCIA card and a copy of the Netstumbler, we hope that this book will teach you about real wireless security and show, in the words of one of the main heroes of The Matrix, "how deep the rabbit hole goes." You will, hopefully, understand what is possible to do security-wise with the wireless network and what isn't; what is considered to be legal and what crosses the line. In the second, defense-oriented section of the book, you will see that, despite all the limitations of wireless security, an attacker can be successfully traced and caught. At the same time, we hope that you will see that defending wireless networks can be as thrilling and fascinating as finding and attacking them, and you could easily end up as a local wireless community security guru or even choose a professional path in this area. If you do participate in a wireless community project, you can raise awareness of wireless security issues in the community and help educate and inform others and show them that "open and free" does not mean "exploited and abused." If you run your own home wireless LAN, we take it for granted that it will be far more difficult to break into after you finish reading this book.

If you are a system administrator or network manager, proper penetration testing of your wireless network is not just the only way to see how vulnerable your network is to both external and internal attackers, but also the only way to demonstrate to your management the need for additional security safeguards, training, and consultants. Leaving the security of your wireless network unattended is asking for trouble, and designing a network with security in mind from the very beginning saves you time, effort, and perhaps your job. Unless the threats are properly understood by top management, you won't be able to implement the security measures you would like to see on your WLAN, or make the best use of the expertise of external auditors and consultants invited to test, troubleshoot, and harden the wireless network. If you decide (or are required) to tackle wireless security problems yourself, we hope that the defense section of the book will be your lifeline. If the network and company happen to be yours, it might even save you a lot of cash (hint: open source).

If you are a security consultant working within the wireless security field or expanding your skills from the wired to the wireless world, you might find a lack of structure in the on-line information and lack of practical recommendations (down to the command line and configuration files) in the currently available literature; this book will fill the vacuum.

The most prestigious and essential certification in the wireless security area at the time of writing is the Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP; see the "Certifications" section at People who have this certification have shown that they have a sufficient understanding of wireless security problems and some hands-on skills in securing real-life wireless networks. Because the CWSP certification is vendor-independent, by definition the CWSP preparation guide cannot go into specific software installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and use in depth. Thus, this book is a very useful aid in CWSP exam preparation, helping the reader comprehend the studied issues on a "how-to" level. In fact, the structure of this book (planned half a year before the release of the official CWSP study guide) is similar to the guide structure: The description of attack methods is followed by chapters devoted to the defensive countermeasures. After that, as you will see, the similarities between the books end.

Finally, if you are a cracker keen on breaking into a few networks to demonstrate that "sad outside world" your "31337 2k1LLz," our guess is what you are going to read here can be useful for your "h4x0r1ng" explorations, in the same manner that sources like Securityfocus or Packetstorm are. Neither these sites nor this book are designed for your kin, though (the three categories of people we had in mind when writing it are listed earlier). We believe in a free flow of information and sensitive open disclosure (as, e.g., outlined by a second version of the infamous RFPolicy; see What you do with this information is your responsibility and the problems you might get into while using it the illicit way are yours, and not ours. The literature on martial arts is not banned because street thugs might use the described techniques against their victims, and the same applies to the informational "martial arts" (consider this one of the subreasons for the name of this book). In fact, how often are you attacked by the possessors of (rightfully earned) black belts on streets or in bars without being an offender yourself? Real masters of the arts do not start fights and true experts in information security do not go around defacing Web sites or trying to get "a fatter free pipe for more w4r3z." If you are truly keen on wireless security, you will end up as a wireless security application developer, security system administrator, or consultant. Although it is not an example from the wireless side of the world, take a close look at Kevin Mitnick, or read his recent "The Art of Deception" work. If you remain on the "m3 0wnZ j00" level, you will end up living without the Internet behind bars in some remote prison cell, and no manuals, books, or tools will save you. It's the mindset that puts "getting root by any means to impress my mates and satisfy my ego" before knowledge and understanding that is flawed.

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