Falsely Accused: The Wireless Controller Story

Every day, innocent wireless controllers are framed for crimes they didn’t commit. This is the story of how one WLAN controller was falsely accused of connection murder…

The Crime Scene – WLAN Connection Murder

Testimony: A user is having difficulty connecting his brand new laptop to the lab WLAN using WPA2-PSK. He has been able to connect to the corporate WLAN but all attempts at the connecting to the lab have failed. Also, the user has been able to connect to other WPA2-PSK protected networks in the past.

Prime Suspect: Bystanders report seeing a WLAN Controller fleeing the scene.

Investigation performed by Detective @SimplyWifi

Are other clients having a similar issue? – No.

Are there comments in the controller’s release notes regarding this issue? – No.

Had client submit to a connectivity test and sent logs to the lab for analysis. Lab results below:

Deauth from sta: 24:77:03:xx:yy:zz: AP xxx.yyy.yyy.zzz-00:24:6c:aa:bb:cc-NameChanged-AP Reason Unspecified Failure

Offender Profile

Based on the resulting debug lab results, it was determined that the wireless client was successfully connecting. However, it would immediately disconnect itself due to an: ‘Unspecified Failure’. The important take-away was, the controller was not initiating the disconnect; it was the client deciding to disconnect. This information allowed the detective to provide the following offender profile:

Age: Less than 1 month old.

Height: ~1 ft.

Build: Standard corporate image.

Behavioural Patterns: The offender is highly mobile but tends to spend a lot of time resting on a docking station on a desk. When connected to the docking station, the offender will likely be physically connected to the wired network via an Ethernet cable.

The Takedown

The offender was located and, as predicted, it was found connected to a docking station. Upon removal from the docking station, the client was able to successfully connect to all corporate and lab WLANs. Detective @SimplyWifi told reporters: “This is another tragic case of the victim turning out to be our perp. Once we started looking at the evidence, it was clear that the WLAN controller was being falsely accused. After that, it was a simple matter of following the evidence back to the victim.”

Final Comments:

In this case, it turned out that an application on the client was blocking the ability to connect to both a wired and wireless network at the same time. As is usually the case, the issue was a client-side issue and required no controller changes to resolve the issue. It serves as a great reminder of the importance of performing detailed victimology in any wireless investigation.

Dan C.

Do you have a story about spending time troubleshooting the WLAN controller only to eventually determine that the issue was with the client? If so, we’d love to hear it in the comments section. Also, if you are having troubles resolving issues on your own WLAN, please contact us and we’d be happy to assist.

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