Table of Contents
Cisco wIPS solution offers flexible and scalable, 24x7x365-based full time wireless security solution to meet each customer’s needs. This document will cover the wIPS security solutions that are provided as part of Cisco Unified Wireless Solution. Depending on your deployment, there is a solution to meet your security needs, starting with the base Wireless LAN Controller (WLC), followed by the WLC and MSE, and finally the WLC, MSE, and CleanAir enabled access points. These three solutions are compared below.
An Access Point in wIPS-optimized mode will perform rogue threat assessment and mitigation using the same logic as current Cisco Unified Wireless Network implementations. This allows a wIPS access point to scan, detect and contain rogue access points and ad-hoc networks. Once discovered, this information regarding rogue wireless devices is reported to PI where rogue alarm aggregation takes place. However, with this functionality comes the caveat that if a containment attack is launched using a wIPS mode access point, its ability to perform methodical attack-focused channel scanning is interrupted for the duration of the containment.
Cisco Adaptive Wireless IPS embeds complete wireless threat detection and mitigation into the wireless network infrastructure to deliver the industry’s most comprehensive, accurate and operationally cost-effective wireless security solution. Below are the Over-the-Air attacks that are detected by the Cisco Adaptive wIPS solution.
Cisco CleanAir® technology is an effective tool to monitor and manage your network's RF conditions. The Cisco MSE extends those capabilities. The figure below shows the advantages of deploying CleanAir enable Access points with a Cisco Adaptive wIPS solution.
- Adaptive wIPS components / architecture
- The wIPS deployment modes
- Off-channel vs. On-channel wIPS scanning
- wIPS communication protocols
- wIPS Configuration and Profile Management
- wIPS Alarm Flow
- Deployment Considerations
- Licensing and Support
- A Step by Step Configuration Guide
This document will address the wIPS solution for Over-the-Air Attacks. Cisco’s Adaptive Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (wIPS) is made up of a number of components that work together to provide a unified security monitoring solution. In addition to the WLAN Controllers, Access Points and Prime Infrastructure components that currently comprise Cisco’s Unified Wireless Networking solution; the wIPS portion introduces two additional components. These additional hardware components include Access Points in wIPS mode and the Mobility Services Engine running the wIPS service software.
- wIPS Mode Access Point—A wIPS mode access point is any access point in Monitor Mode, Local Mode with wIPS, or with the WSM module. This term will be used to group access points capable of wIPS.
- wIPS Monitor Mode Access Point(s) – Provides constant channel scanning with attack detection and forensics (packet capture) capabilities.
- Local Mode Access Point(s)—Provides wireless service to clients in addition to limited time-sliced attacker scanning.
- Access Point(s) with Local Mode with wIPS—Like Local Mode, provides wireless service to client, but when scanning off-channel, the radio dwells on the channel for an extended period of time, allowing enhanced attack detection.
- Wireless Security (WSM) Module—This is an add-on module to the Cisco Aironet 3600/3700 Series Access Point, which offloads the constant channel scanning with attack detection and forensics capabilities to the module, freeing up the serving radios for clients.
- Mobility Services Engine (running wIPS Service)—The central point of alarm aggregation from all controllers and their respective wIPS Monitor Mode Access Points. Alarm information and forensic files are stored on the system for archival purposes.
- Wireless LAN Controller(s)—Forwards attack information from wIPS Monitor Mode Access Points to the MSE and distributes configuration parameters to APs.
- Prime Infrastructure—Provides the administrator the means to configure the wIPS Service on the MSE, push wIPS configurations to the controller and set Access Points into wIPS Monitor mode. It is also used for viewing wIPS alarms, forensics, reporting and accessing the attack encyclopedia.
Beginning with the 7.4 release, Cisco Adaptive Wireless IPS has three options for wIPS mode access points. To better understand the differences between the wIPS mode access points, lets discuss each mode.
Local Mode with wIPS provides wIPS detection “on-channel”, which means attackers will be detected on the channel that is serving clients. For all other channels, ELM provides best effort wIPS detection. This means that every frame the radio would go “off-channel” for a short period of time. While “off-channel”, if an attack occurs while that channel is scanned, the attack will be detected.
An example of Local Mode with wIPS on an AP3600, the 2.4 GHz radio is operating on channel 6. The AP will constantly monitor channel 6, any attacks on channel 6 will be detected and reported. If an attacker attacks channel 11, while the AP is scanning channel 11 “off-channel”, the attack will be detected.
- Adds wIPS security scanning for 7x24 on channel scanning (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), with best effort off channel support
- The access point is additionally serving clients and with the G2 Series of Access Points enables CleanAir spectrum analysis on channel (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
- Adaptive wIPS scanning in data serving local and FlexConnect APs
- Protection without requiring a separate overlay network
- Supports PCI compliance for the wireless LANs
- Full 802.11 and non-802.11 attack detection
- Adds forensics and reporting capabilities
- Flexibility to set integrated or dedicated MM APs
- Pre-processing at APs minimize data backhaul (that is, works over very low bandwidth links)
- Low impact on the serving data
Monitor Mode provides wIPS detection “off-channel”, which means the access point will dwell on each channel for an extend period of time, this allows the AP to detect attacks on all channels. The 2.4GHz radio will scan all 2.4GHz channels, while the 5GHz channel scans all 5GHz channels. An additional access point would need to be installed for client access.
A Cisco 3600 series Access point with the WSM module uses a combination of “on-channel” and “off-channel”. This means that the AP3600 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz will scan the channel that they are serving clients and the WSM module would operate in monitor mode and scan all channels.
- Industry’s first Access Point enabling the ability to simultaneously Serve clients, wIPS security scan, and analyze the spectrum using CleanAir Technology
- Dedicated 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio with its own antennas enabling 7x24 scanning of all wireless channels in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
- A single Ethernet infrastructure provides simplified operation with fewer devices to manage and optimized return on investment of the AP3600 wireless infrastructure and the Ethernet wired infrastructure
An AP in local mode is mostly “on-channel”, making it difficult to detect attackers “off-channel”. A monitor mode AP is always “off-channel”, but cannot server clients, the WSM module provides a great combination of both.
- CAPWAP (Control and Provisioning of Wireless Access Points) – This protocol is utilized for communication between Access Points and controllers. It provides a bi-directional tunnel in which alarm information is shuttled to the controller and configuration information is pushed to the Access Point. CAPWAP control messages are DTLS encrypted and CAPWAP data has the option to be DTLS encrypted
- NMSP (Network Mobility Services Protocol) – The protocol used for communication between Wireless LAN Controllers and the Mobility Services Engine. In the case of a wIPS Deployment, this protocol provides a pathway for alarm information to be aggregated from controllers to the MSE and for wIPS configuration information to be pushed to the controller. This protocol is encrypted.
- SOAP/XML (Simple Object Access Protocol) - The method of communication between the MSE and PI. This protocol is used to distribute configuration parameters to the wIPS service running on the MSE.
Configuration of wIPS Profiles follows a chained hierarchy starting with PI, which is used for profile viewing and modification. The actual profiles are stored within the wIPS service running on the MSE. From the wIPS Service on the MSE, profiles are propagated to specific controllers, which in turn communicate this profile transparently to wIPS Mode Access Points associated to that perspective controller. When a configuration change to a wIPS profile is made at PI and applied to a set of Mobility Services Engine(s) and Controller(s), the following steps occur to put the change in place:
Note A controller is associated to a single configuration profile, which will be utilized for all wIPS mode Access Points joined to that controller. As such, all wIPS Mode APs connected to a controller will share the same wIPS configuration.
4. The Wireless LAN Controller receives the updated wIPS profile, stores it into NVRAM (replacing any previous revision of the profile) and propagates the updated profile to its associated wIPS Access Points via CAPWAP control messages.
It should be noted that a Mobility Services Engine can only be configured from one Prime Infrastructure. This is essentially a 1:1 relationship meaning that a Mobility Services Engine, once associated to a particular PI, cannot be added to another PI.
1. In order for an alarm to be triggered on the Cisco Adaptive wIPS system, an attack must be launched against a legitimate Access Point or Client. Legitimate Access Points and clients are discovered automatically in a Cisco Unified Wireless Network by ‘trusting’ devices broadcasting the same ‘RF-Group’ name. In this configuration, the system dynamically maintains a list of local-mode Access Points and their associated clients. The system can also be configured to ‘trust’ devices by SSID using the SSID Groups feature. Only attacks, which are considered harmful to the WLAN infrastructure, are propagated upwards to the rest of the system.
3. The Wireless LAN Controller will transparently forward the alarm update from the Access Point to the wIPS Service running on the Mobility Services Engine. The protocol used for this communication is NMSP.
4. Once received by the wIPS Service on the Mobility Services Engine, the alarm update will be added to the alarm database for archival and attack tracking. An SNMP trap is forwarded to the Prime Infrastructure containing the attack information. If multiple alarm updates are received referencing the same attack (for example, if multiple Access Points hear the same attack) only one SNMP trap will be sent to PI.
- Access Points in wIPS Monitor Mode, in Local Mode with wIPS, or with a wireless security module
- Wireless LAN Controller(s)
- A Mobility Services Engine running the wIPS Service
- A Prime Infrastructure
- Available with Cisco Mobility Services Engine Software Release 5.2.xxx or later
- Requires 5.2.xxx or later on Cisco Wireless Control System
- Requires 5.2.xxx or later on Cisco wireless LAN controllers
- Release 5.2 and later wireless IPS functionality requires Monitor Mode (that is, non-client-serving) access points
- Release 7.1.xxx and later wireless IPS functionality requires access points in local mode with wIPS (that is, client-serving)
A Mobility Services Engine (MSE) can be managed only by one Prime Infrastructure, which has design implications when scaling the network. It is possible to have multiple Mobility Services Engines managed by a single Prime Infrastructure.
- PI can support a maximum of 15,000 Access Points on a high-end server. This limit of 15,000 includes both client-serving Access Points and Access Points in wIPS Monitor Mode. wIPS and Data APs can be intermixed at a variety of ratios to reach the upper limit of 15000 Access Points per PI. These ratios are dependent on environmental RF conditions, density of the existing WLAN installation and the required level of security monitoring.
- Each wIPS mode has a different recommended deployment density. For local mode with wIPS, we recommend a density of 1:1, meaning that every AP should be in Local Mode with wIPS. For Monitor Mode APs we recommend a density of 1:5 and for the AP3600 with the WSM module, we recommend 2:5. This is shown in the table below.
Before deploying an Adaptive wIPS system, it is important to consider that the communications range of an access point’s cell is less than the actual range at which frames may be received and decoded. The reason for this discrepancy is that an Access Point’s communication range is limited by the weakest link – which in typical deployments is the WLAN client. Given that the output power of a WLAN client is intrinsically less than the Access Point’s maximum, the range of the cell is restricted to the client’s abilities. In addition, it is recommended practice to run Access Points at less than full power to build RF redundancy and load balancing into the wireless network. These aforementioned fact combined with the superior receive sensitivity of Cisco’s Access Points allows the Adaptive wIPS system to be deployed with less access point density than the client serving infrastructure while still providing pervasive monitoring.
As depicted in the above diagram, a wIPS deployment is based on hearing 802.11 management and control frames which are used by a majority of attacks to cause harm. This is in contrast to a data Access Points deployment that is surveyed to provide higher throughput data rates anywhere from 24Mbps to 54Mbps.
There are numerous factors that go into deciding exactly the number of wIPS Access Points that are required for a specific environment. Given that each prospective deployment’s security requirements and environmental conditions are different, there is no hard and fast rule that will address the needs of every deployment but a few generalized guidelines must be taken into account.
Deployment depends on specific environmental conditions such as floor layout and building materials. Given that wireless signal propagation is heavily dependent on the type of material the signal must pass through, an office environment with numerous walls will require more sensors than an empty warehouse. This factor is similar to pre-existing knowledge as to how data-serving Access Points are deployed. The more obstacles in the environment which cause RF signal attenuation, the denser the deployment of wIPS Access Points will need to be.
In the below diagram, an open indoor environment is depicted where wIPS Access Points are deployed with the ability to ‘listen’ for attacks for a long distance given that there are no walls to disrupt or weaken a wireless signal.
In sharp contrast, the diagram below depicts an indoor environment with numerous heavy walls, which cause signal attenuation. In this case, more wIPS Access Points will need to be deployed to ensure that attacks are picked up.
The radio frequency propagation characteristics of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands vary as a result of the wavelength differences between the two. Put simply, 2.4GHz wireless signals (802.11b/g/n) travel a further distance than 5GHz (802.11a/n). In order to accurately compute the number of wIPS access points needed for a prospective installation, one must consider what frequency bands must be monitored in the wIPS deployment.
The above charts outline the circular square footage than can be covered by a single wIPS mode Access Point in each frequency band and each type of environment. These metrics can provide a baseline as how many wIPS Access Points are needed to cover a specific floor area. These charts were created using MatLab simulation software assuming an attacking device outputting 15dBm of transmit power. The receive sensitivity used this calculation represents the lowest common denominator between Cisco’s line of Access Points that support wIPS.
The physical deployment of wIPS Mode Access Points is based on the end goal of providing pervasive monitoring across the entire WLAN infrastructure. To this end, wIPS mode APs are placed using two general guidelines. First, deploy wIPS access points around the periphery of your physical location to ensure adequate monitoring of attacks being launched from outside the building. This does not mean that wIPS mode Access Points should be deployed in the physical extremities of the building but instead they should be appropriately positioned to provide detection coverage to the extremities. Second, deploy wIPS access points throughout the center of the building to ensure complete detection of attacks launched from within the physical building.
The physical mounting location of a wIPS Access Point should be based on the same best practices used when mounting data serving Access Points. Following these conventions, it is important that wIPS Access Point antennas are not hidden behind heavy building materials or placed above drop ceilings. In the case that an Access Point is mounted above the ceiling, specific external antennas should be used to bring antenna leads into the same physical space that will be monitored.
In the above deployment example, four wIPS Access Points are deployed around the edges of the building to provide security monitoring around the periphery of the physical building. In addition, a wIPS Access Point is deployed in the center of the building to provide security-monitoring coverage inside the building.
As stated above, the square footage of access point coverage can be measured based on frequency and environment, but with the newer wIPS modes, other factors also contribute to wIPS access point density recommendations. All access point modes can monitor the same distance, but due to the reasons below, it is recommended to deploy each mode with a different density.
Finally for the WSM module, there is a single radio monitoring all channels on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band. Since radio has additional channels to scan, it is recommended that the WSM module be deployed with a 2:5 density to speed up detection time.
An integrated wIPS deployment is a system design in which non-wIPS Mode Access Points and wIPS Mode Access Points are intermixed on the same controller(s) and managed by the same Prime Infrastructure. This can be any combination of local mode, flex connect mode, local mode with wIPS, monitor mode, and 3600 series Access points with the WSM module. Overlaying wIPS protection and data shares many of the components including controllers and Prime Infrastructure thus reducing duplicate infrastructure costs.
Cisco’s Adaptive wIPS system provides the ability to capture attack forensics for further investigation and troubleshooting purposes. At a base level, the forensics capability is a toggle-based packet capture facility, which provides the ability to log and retrieve a set of wireless frames. This feature is enabled on a per attack basis from within the wIPS profile configuration of PI.
Once enabled, the forensics feature is triggered once a specific attack alarm is seen over the airwaves. The forensic file will be created based on the packets contained within the buffer of the wIPS Mode AP that triggered the original alarm. This file is transferred to the Wireless LAN Controller via CAPWAP, which then forwards the forensic file via NMSP to the wIPS Service running on the Mobility Services Engine. The file is stored within the forensic archive on the MSE until the user configured disk space limit for forensics is reached. By default this limit is 20Gigabytes, which when reached will cause the oldest forensic files to be removed. Access to the forensic file can be obtained by opening the alarm on the Prime Infrastructure, which contains a hyperlink to the forensic file. The files are stored as a ‘.CAP’ file format which can be opened by either WildPacket’s Omnipeek, AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer, Wireshark or any other packet capture program which supports this format. Wireshark is available at http://www.wireshark.org .
Note The forensics capability of the wIPS system should be used sparingly and then disabled after the desired information is captured. The reason for this recommendation is the intensive load it places on the Access Point as well as the interruption in scheduled channel scanning this capability requires. A wIPS Access Point cannot be simultaneously performing channel scanning at the same instance it is producing a forensic file. While the forensic file is being dumped, channel scanning will be delayed for a maximum of 5 seconds.
Enabled High Availability, then select the role of the MSE. Then select the Ethernet port that will be actively monitored by a secondary MSE server. If there is a direct connection, the Ethernet port must be given.
Note It is imperative that the correct time be set on the Mobility Services Engine, Wireless LAN Controller and PI Management System. This can be achieved by pointing all three systems to the same NTP server and ensuring they have the correct time zones configured.
A login banner is used to inform users of the system’s use and present a warning to keep unauthorized users from accessing the system. Since the login banner may be a multi-line message, a single period (.) ends the message and proceeds to the next step.
This parameter is used to enable/disable remote console access to the system. This should be enabled so remote troubleshooting can occur however corporate security policies may mandate disabling this option.
Enter a unique device name for the MSE, the IP address previously configured during the MSE setup, a contact name for support and the PI Communication Password configured during the MSE setup. Do not change the username from the default of admin.
By default, the MSE and corresponding wIPS Access Points inherit the default wIPS profile from PI. This profile comes pre-tuned with a majority of attack alarms enabled by default and will monitor attacks against Access Points within the same RF-Group as the wIPS Access Points. In this manner, the system comes pre-setup to monitor attacks against a deployment model that utilizes an integrated solution in which both the WLAN infrastructure and wIPS Access Points are intermixed on the same controller.
Note Some of the steps below are marked as Overlay-Only and are only to be undertaken when deploying the Adaptive wIPS solution to monitor an existing WLAN Infrastructure such as an autonomous or completely separate controller-based WLAN.
Cisco’s Adaptive wIPS system comes with a pre-defined set of profile templates of which customers can use as a starting place to create their own custom profiles. Each one is tailored to a specific vertical and varies in regards to which specific alarms are enabled.
By default, the system monitors attacks launched against the local Wireless LAN Infrastructure (as defined by APs which have the same ‘RF Group’ name). If the system should also be required to monitor attacks against another network, such as when deployed in an overlay deployment model, the SSID groups feature must be utilized.
This configuration screen allows specific attacks to be enabled or disabled. It also permits the administrator to drill down to specific alarms and edit their specific thresholds or even turn on forensics.
The policy rule window allows the severity of the alarm to be modified in addition to a number of other parameters. The notification item is a check box which defines whether forensic (packet captures) are taken for this particular alarm. There is also a specific threshold for this alarm, which in this case is defined as the number of active associations but this is different for every alarm. Next, the type parameter defines what WLAN infrastructure the system will monitor attacks against. By default this is configured to Device Group and Internal which specifies all APs in the same ‘RF Group’ name as the wIPS APs. Changing the type to SSID allows the system to monitor a separate network, which is typical of an overlay deployment and this configuration is discussed below.
The policy rule window allows the severity of the alarm to be modified in addition to a number of other parameters. The notification item is a check box which defines whether forensic (packet captures) are taken for this particular alarm. There is also a specific threshold for this alarm, which in this case is defined as the number of active associations but this is different for every alarm. Next, the type parameter defines what SSIDs the system will monitor. If the type is changed to ‘Device Group’ then the system will monitor attacks only against APs in the same ‘RF Group’. In the case that ‘SSID’ is selected, then the system can be utilized to monitor attacks against a separate WLAN infrastructure as defined by the SSID Groups earlier in the setup.
If the system is to be configured to monitor another WLAN infrastructure by SSID, then changes will need to be made for each and every policy rule to monitor by SSID. A policy rule will need to created under each separate alarm which defines the system to monitor attacks against the SSID Group created earlier.
Once the Adaptive wIPS system has been pervasively installed across the entire area to be monitored, it is recommended that Cisco’s traditional Wireless LAN Controller IDS be disabled. Executing this step prevents duplicate alerts being triggered on both the Adaptive wIPS and existing IDS systems.
The severity of aWIPS alarms is set based on its security threat level and operation impact on a wireless production network. For example, for most DoS attacks, they may have an operational impact on the wireless infrastructure. Thus, their severities are set to Critical by default. It is not necessary to change the default severity level, but it can be changed on case-by-case basis as long as thorough investigation and review have been done with InfoSec and Security Monitoring teams internally for customers.
For the Device Group, it is a list of device MAC addresses that administrators want to monitor for aWIPS attacks. The most effective monitoring for attacks specific to infrastructure devices, such as APs and associated clients, is to select the Internal option as the Device Group to be monitored.
If specific SSID Groups are configured, it means a list of SSIDs will be monitored for SSID specific attacks. To monitor these alarms correctly, it is critical to ensure that this list of SSIDs are configured inside specific SSID groups, so that they can be referred later in signature configuration.
Note The Honeypot AP detected signature attack can only detect specified SSIDs with open authentication. If Any is chosen for SSID Group, it means that the alarm will be triggered by any SSID, and not those specific to configured SSIDs or SSID groups. Thus, administrators must be cautious on SSID group changes because they affect the scope of monitoring SSIDs.
It is not recommended to enable Forensic for all alarms, because it will potentially increase the aWIPS alarm-related traffic throughput dramatically, especially in case WLC and MSE are separated in different locations and communicate over a WAN link. However, the Forensic option can be enabled on specific alarms, in case of troubleshooting and validating fidelity of alarms.
When the captured forensic file is not sufficient for troubleshooting, administrators can use third-party sniffing tools (such as AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer or Wireshark AirPcap) to capture for a longer duration.
Action refers to the mitigation action that can be taken by aWIPS when an attack is detected. Up-to-date, there are four mitigation actions in Cisco aWIPS such as location, auto-immune, blacklist, and containment. The last three actions are only available in WLC and MSE releases 7.5 or 7.6 and PI releases 1.4 or 1.4.1.
For most aWIPS alarms, location is still the only mitigation scheme available unless the other schemes are specified. This mitigation option is not configurable explicitly. It takes advantage of another service hosted by MSE, context aware, to help locate attackers or alarm sources, so that they can be physically removed later.
For some DoS attacks, a potential attacker can use specially crafted packets to mislead WIPS to treat a legitimate client as an attacker. It causes the controller to disconnect the legitimate client. The auto-immune feature is designed to ignore the crafted packets from an attacker and protect the legitimate client from loss of connectivity. Currently, there is only one attack that supports auto-immune action:
Different from the auto-immune, blacklist is a more aggressive mitigation action to deauthenticate the identified attacking device if it is connected first; ignore all traffic from it afterwards as long as it is on the blacklist. Currently, the following attacks support blacklist action:
Containment action in WIPS attacks is similar to rogue AP containment. It is designed to initiate containment on SSID-related attacks to prevent legitimate clients connecting to those SSIDs set up by attackers. Currently, the following attacks support for containment action:
Some of the aWIPS alarms are threshold-based, that is, once the frames/packets match over the threshold in a sampling period, the alarms are triggered. A sampling period in Cisco WIPS is one minute, which is accumulated dwell time on a channel for WIPS APs.
An AP in local mode with wIPS spends only 50 ms for off-channel scanning; it will take a long time if the attacks are off-channel. This is why ELM only provides the best effort with regard to off-channels attacks. It is recommended to use monitoring mode (MM) AP to detect off-channel attacks. On the other hand, because ELM is on operating channel most of time, it detects on-channel attacks much faster than MM AP.
To get the best output, ELM AP with WSM module is the recommended solution for WIPS deployment. Threshold-based alarms tend to cause more false positives compared to non threshold-based ones. But for some of them, the accuracy of alarms can be increased when out of sequence (OOS) logic is also taken into consideration. Therefore, these alarms are subjects for administrators to monitor, review, and fine-tune.
Fidelity is one key attribute missing in previous Cisco aWIPS documentations or aWIPS user interfaces. It represents a measure of confidence level in signature accuracy. The fidelity level of WIPS alarms can be categorized into the five categories with regard to accuracy percentage as follows:
The higher the fidelity metric value, the more accurate the signature alarm is reported. Signatures with high fidelity have uniqueness in detection logic pattern, while ones with low fidelity can be triggered by various false positive conditions. Thus, this is an important metric to guide administrators when prioritizing WIPS attacks in monitoring, as well as mitigation.
1. There is no one-fits-all WIPS profile for all organizations because each organization's wireless environment is different. Even within the same organization, wireless environment can change over the time. The WIPS profile must be customized for your environment with WIPS alarms. Cisco attempts to provide WIPS templates based on different verticals, such as Finance, Retail, Enterprise, and so on. However, they only represent a baseline for administrators to start with.
2. There are no differences between various vertical WIPS templates, other than the signatures that are enabled by default for each one. For threshold-based alarms in each vertical WIPS template, there are no differences in the threshold settings among them.
1. Identify a subgroup of critical alarms for your organization to monitor after the internal review with the InfoSec and security incident monitoring teams and align the corresponding mitigation plans.
2. Focus on alarms with the combination of high severity (above Major) and high fidelity (above High), such as Honeypot AP detected signature. Administrators must collect packet traces for further validation if necessary and prepare to initiate mitigation effort on these alarms.
3. Focus selective effort on alarms with lower severity (Minor and below) or lower fidelity (Medium and below). Administrators must first understand the security and operation impact of these alarms in order to outline the priority list. With this list, administrators can prioritize on validating and mitigation effort if needed. For example, the DoS: De-Auth flood alarm is one such alarm. Its fidelity level is Medium because it is threshold-based. But its severity is Critical because this attack will cause the legitimate client lose connectivity. In case of such alarms, administrators must validate whether it is false positive through troubleshooting. Then proceed with mitigation if needed.
4. Ignore or turn off alarms with the combination of low severity (Minor and below) and low fidelity (Medium and below). For example, the NetStumbler detected alarm is one such alarm. From the field experience, it can be easily triggered by some chatty clients that send a large number of probe requests. It is a threshold-based alarm. Even if it is triggered, it does not mean that devices using the Netstumbler tool are detected. For administrators, it is fairly safe to ignore or even turn off this alarm.
5. Tune on threshold-based alarms if necessary. As discussed earlier, threshold-based alarms tend to trigger false positives. It requires administrators to adjust the threshold for some false positive scenarios. For example, the DoS: CTS flood alarm is one such alarm. In a mixed deployment of 802.11n and non-802.11n devices, CTS-to-Self frames of protection scheme for non-802.11n devices tend to trigger false positives for this alarm. In such cases, administrators should increase the threshold value to avoid this alarm being triggered in the future.
6. Auto mitigation action should be implemented only for alarms with the combination of high severity (above Major) and high fidelity (above High). For example, for any devices using your corporate SSIDS that trigger Honeypot AP detected alarms, administrators can implement containment as action to automate the mitigation effort. On the other hand, for alarms such as Hotspotter tool detected with Minor severity, it is not necessary to implement the containment action.
- Leverage PI native report templates for WIPS alarms.
- Use third-party Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) as a northbound notification receiver of PI.
The figure above is a snapshot of the aWIPS alarms summary for Cisco lab environment over the last four weeks. The Spoofed MAC address detected count is almost 50% of the total alarms in this environment. First, this is an alarm with High fidelity and Major severity. As per the general guideline, No. 2 above, administrators should proceed to troubleshoot and find out why it was triggered so often in the last four weeks. To collect traces for analysis, administrators can try to enable Forensic for this alarm first. If it is not sufficient, you must locate detecting APs and reporting area, and start global forensic captures on those APs to collect more traces. Also engage Cisco TAC to analyze the traces and to troubleshoot.
Based on field experience and feedback, the administrators can use the following quick tips to tune some WIPS alarms in this section. Note that these recommendations are applied for all conditions, unless they are specified otherwise.
If there are Cisco CleanAir-capable APs in your wireless production network, CleanAir solution will provide a granular and accurate spectrum report and analysis and is the recommended solution for those purposes.
The following alarms may be outdated because they are used to detect attacks that may cause wireless devices to crash. These types of attacks are only effective on wireless clients with very old drivers, which are very rarely seen in today’s enterprise wireless network. They also have no impact on Cisco wireless devices based on our deployment experience. Thus, it is recommended to disable them.
In general, if you allow associated wireless clients to connect to SSIDs other than your managed ones, this alarm can be disabled. Especially for retail and public Wi-Fi deployment, if you provide Wi-Fi guest services for users, this alarm will be triggered a lot when it is enabled because users can connect to your neighboring Wi-Fi network.
This alarm will be triggered whenever a known hotspot (such as attwifi) is detected. It could be a real hotspot from carriers or retail store, but it could also be a fake hotspot that hackers set up to allure wireless clients. If there are real hotspots near your venue, especially for retail and public WiFi deployment, this alarm may be disabled to ignore unnecessary false positives generated.
In mixed deployment of 802.11n and non-802.11n devices, this alarm can be triggered a lot. It does not mean real DoS attack happen. Administrators need to increase the threshold value based on your environment.
This is the default alarm to monitor any SSIDs. It can be triggered when a client associates with your wireless infrastructure first, and then switches to AP mode later. If administrators only care about monitoring your own SSIDs, you should make the change to a specific SSID group with your own SSIDs in it.