FortiWLC – Rogue AP Detection and Mitigation

Rogue AP Detection and Mitigation

Rogue APs are unauthorized wireless access points. These rogues can be physically connected to the wired network or they can be outside the building in a neighbor’s network or they can be in a hacker’s parked car. Valid network users should not be allowed to connect to the rogue APs because rogues pose a security risk to the corporate network. Rogue APs can appear in an enterprise network for reasons as innocent as users experimenting with WLAN technology, or reasons as dangerous as a malicious attack against an otherwise secure network. Physical security of the building, which is sufficient for wired networks with the correct application of VPN and firewall technologies, is not enough to secure the WLAN. RF propagation inherent in WLANs enables unauthorized users in near proximity of the targeted WLAN (for example, in a parking lot) to gain network access as if they were inside the building.

TABLE 19: Fortinet Support of Rogue Detection and Mitigation

Rogue Detection Rogue Mitigation
AP1000 4.1 and later 4.1 and later
AP400 5.0 and later 5.0 and later

Regardless of why a rogue AP exists on a WLAN, it is not subject to the security policies of the rest of the WLAN and is the weak link in an overall security architecture. Even if the person who introduced the rogue AP had no malicious intent, malicious activity can eventually occur. Such malicious activity includes posing as an authorized access point to collect security information that can be used to further exploit the network. Network security mechanisms typically protect the network from unauthorized users but provide no means for users to validate the authenticity of the network itself. A security breach of this type can lead to the collection of personal information, protected file access, attacks to degrade network performance, and attacks to the management of the network.

To prevent clients of unauthorized APs from accessing your network, enable the options for both scanning for the presence of rogue APs and mitigating the client traffic originating from them. These features are set globally from either the CLI or Web UI, with the controller managing the lists of allowable and blocked WLAN BSSIDs and coordinating the set of APs (the mitigating APs) that perform mitigation when a rogue AP is detected.

As a result of the channel scan, a list of rogue APs is compiled and sent by the controller to a number of mitigating APs that are closest to the rogue AP. Mitigating APs send mitigation


(deauth) frames to the rogue AP where clients are associated to remove those clients from the network. This presence of the rogue AP generates alarms that are noted on the Web UI monitoring dashboard and via syslog alarm messages so the administrator is aware of the situation and can then remove the offending AP or update the configuration list.

Rogue Scanning can be configured so that it is a dedicated function of a radio on a dual radio AP or a part time function of the same radio that also serves clients. When rogue AP scanning (detection) is enabled, for any given period, an AP spends part of the time scanning channels and part of the time performing normal AP WLAN operations on the home channel. This cycle of scan/operate, which occurs on a designated AP or an AP interface without assigned stations, ensures there is no network operation degradation.

For AP400 and AP1000, each radio is dual band (supports both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz) and capable of scanning for all channels and all bands when configured as a dedicated scanning radio. As access points are discovered, their BSSID is compared to an AP access control list of BSSIDs. An access point might be known, blocked, or nonexistent on the access control list. A “known” AP is considered authorized because that particular BSSID was entered into the list by the system administrator. A “selected” AP is blocked by the Wireless LAN System as an unauthorized AP. The Fortinet WLAN also reports other APs that are not on the access control list; these APs trigger alerts to the admin console until the AP is designated as known or selected in the access control list. For example, a third party BSS is detected as a rogue unless it is added to the access control list.

Fortinet APs also detect rogue APs by observing traffic either from the access point or from a wireless station associated to a rogue. This enables the system to discover a rogue AP when the rogue is out of range, but one or more of the wireless stations associated to it are within range.

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