GRV Network Security Breach Leads To Upgrade

When GRV IT Manger,Geoff Milner received a phone call from a man who had managed to tap in to the wireless network at the Horsham greyhound track, it marked the start of a wireless network security upgrade for the Greyhound Racing Club of Victoria (GRV).”

We needed to secure individual wireless links where data is transferred from race clubs to head office,” says Mr Milner, the racing club’s IT manager.

The racing club went wireless three years ago, moving from a slow DOS-based system with a modem to a faster VPN (Virtual Private Network) for its 15 racing clubs across Victoria.

The wireless network carries information about the greyhounds and race results that are sent from the finish line to the stewards’ room after each race.

Integrity and security of greyhound information and race results is important to this industry, which wants to avoid eavesdroppers who could potentially corrupt, tamper or interfere with data.

After the Horsham track breach, Mr Milner was worried that “one weak spot on the network could compromise the whole network”, and asked telecommunications consultants Telarus to do a security audit on the racing club’s wireless network, firewall and the WAN (wide area network).”

(This) case is a bit different to a wireless LAN,” says Telarus managing director Jules Rumsey. “They are actually using point-to-point wireless links at each of their clubs to link a remote steward’s office station with a finish-line racing control centre. The distance between them was such that it was not practical for Ethernet cabling so they went for a wireless link.”

Many of GRV’s wireless access points had a default configuration where they advertised their SSID (service set identifier), which would appear in the wireless client of anyone in range as an ‘available’ network.”

Telarus disabled advertisement of SSIDs and updated firmware on the wireless access points, enabling the racing club to run wi-fiprotectedaccess personal mode (WPAPSK) security.”

GRV were concerned about people tapping into access points so we put higher encryption into those devices,” Mr Rumsey says. “We also updated the client computer that was connecting to that access point so they were talking over a much more secure wireless link that couldn’t be eavesdropped.”

The racing club also deployed a Fortinet firewall, which can run an intrusion prevention system with a database of more than 4000 attack signatures, says Mr Rumsey.”

In the event that it sees an attack that matches one of these signatures, it can take steps to block the attack,” he says. “Fortinet’s engineers are constantly updating the signature database to maximise the protection offered by the platform.”

One of the challenges in this project was that most of the racetracks have buildings made of corrugated metal, which means the wireless devices inside experience interference.

These sheds are like a Faraday cage, where the metal blocks out electrical fields (similar to a mobile phone not being able to work inside a lift).”

The signal strength between the buildings was fine but notebooks in the tin sheds couldn’t get a signal,” says the GRV’s Mr Milner. “The tin also affects the signal strength of the wireless device.”

A repeater was installed to increase antenna strength.

Antennas inside and outside the sheds were also installed.

Mr Milner says there is the potential for interstate greyhound racing authorities to consider going wireless and tapping into the racing club’s network.

Courtesy : Cynthia Karena, The Age