The IEEE 802.16 committee has introduced mechanisms aimed at minimizing possible security risks associated with WiMax.
The committee included support to the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) for 802.16e networks. The amendment is in response to earlier authentication issues. Under the fundamental principle, each subscriber station will carry X.509 certificates that are required for uniquely identifying the subscriber. WiMax’s privacy and key management (PKM) protocol, however, lacked base station (BS) or service provider authentication. This makes the system prone to man-in-the-middle attacks, which in turn present various confidentiality and availability inroads to subscribers. The amendment led to the availability of support for the AES cipher, which bolsters confidentiality of data traffic.
In spite of the innovations, WiMax could remain vulnerable to attacks such as rogue base stations, WiMax protocol fuzzing, and network manipulation with spoofed management frames. The ability of the technology to withstand these dangers will only be known once the market sees large scale WiMax deployments.