Inside the Black Hat 2014 Wi-Fi Network [VIDEO]

PEAP-TLS option provides users with a more secure Wi-Fi network.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Aug 6, 2014
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LAS VEGAS. Few environments on Planet Earth are as hostile for connectivity as the Black Hat USA conference. In a maelstrom of hackers, security researchers and script kiddies, enterprise WiFi vendor Aruba Networks must provide secure Wi-Fi for conference attendees.

It's a task that Aruba is familiar with. The company managed the wireless network in 2010, 2011 and 2012, when the event was held at the Caesar's Palace conference center. The 2014 event takes place at the Mandalay Bay, a larger venue requiring a larger Wi-Fi deployment.

At Black Hat 2014, Aruba has a total of 130 AP-225 access points. Those access points are mounted throughout the confrence facility using an ingenious tubing setup that Aruba engineers built for the show.

Sitting behind all the access points are Aruba 7240 ControllersIn a video interview with Enterprise Networking Planet, Jon Green, senior director and security architect for Aruba, details what the setup looks like and how security has been deployed in the hostile environment.

As opposed to the RSA trade show, which did not have an encrypted network, the Black Hat 2014 network will have at least two encrypted wireless networks. One of them is a standard WPA2-based network with a pre-shared key.

"The issue with a pre-shared key is that everyone can authenticate using the same set of credentials," Green said.

With a pre-shared key comes the remote possibility that traffic can be sniffed, though it's not an easy task and Aruba has protection in place for users.

The other network uses PEAP-TLS (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol).

"PEAP-TLS uses a certificate on the server side and a user name password on the user side," Green said.

PEAP-TLS offers the promise of improved security over just using WPA2, though it's not quite as robust as EAP-TLS (Extensible Authentication Protocol), which requires certificates on both sides of the connection.

Overall, Aruba executives are confident that the wireless network they have deployed is up to the Black Hat challenge and users should feel confident that they can use it.

Watch the full video of the Black Hat 2014 Wi-Fi control room below.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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