[SATLUG] WiMAX MAC Security

Chad Wilson typedeaf at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 14 11:42:48 CDT 2014


Hi all. My first post to this mailing list!

Last night at the SAT LUG meeting, a discussion about OSes for portable device led to a discussion on WiMAX security weaknesses.
I made a suggestion that they could use shared key crypto to combat the threat of MITM attacks, and it was one persons opinion that cryptographic security could not be employed at MAC layer.
I did a Google search on "WiMAX security" and wanted to share what I found.

It appears that WiMAX uses IEEE 802.16 wireless protocol, which is chock full of security mechanisms employing just about every symmetric, asymmetric and hashing algorithm known to man.
This article addresses several known vulnerabilities at the data link layer, specifically the man-in-the-middle attack:


http://www.cse.wustl.edu/~jain/cse571-09/ftp/wimax2/#sec3.2.4

The recommendation made by some security analysis team was to employ Diffie-Hellman key exchange at the MAC layer to solve the problem.

Where I work, we deploy thousands of devices that communicate back to a centralized server using both Zigbee and a PPP internet connection over a private tunnel using the G3 mobile network.

Zigbee, IEEE 802.15, is another wireless communications protocol that uses asymmetric key crypto at the MAC layer.
We add the key to the device when the firmware is burned in. So the key is tied to a MAC address, which is also burned into the device.


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