In this video, Mike Chapple covers the multiple sources of mobile connection methods, including cellular, WiFi, SATCOM, Bluetooth, NFC, ANT, infrared, and USB.
- In order to secure mobile devices, cybersecurity professionals need to understand the various ways that mobile devices may gain access to data and connect to resources on other systems. There are quite a few of these technologies available and each has different uses. Let's take a look at a few. Cellular network operate in most urban and suburban areas around the world and in some cases, even in rural areas. These networks were originally used only for voice communications but expanded to include data service as cellular telephones made way for smart devices.
Cellular networks cover a fairly large area with a single tower able to serve devices up to 20 or more miles away. The range of a tower depends significantly on the terrain with towers near highways and the middle of the desert able to reach much further than towers in a densely populated urban area. Cellular networks are rated according to the generation of service they provide and those generations are numbered in increasing order of capability. We no longer often see original or second generation cellular networks but 3G and 4G networks are common and 5G technology is under development.
I spoke about the security of Wi-Fi networks extensively earlier in this course. Wi-Fi networks provide an important performance boost for mobile devices as they are generally much faster than cellular networks and users and mobile devices often connect to Wi-Fi networks when they're in a Wi-Fi enabled area to gain that speed boost. The trade-off, of course, is that Wi-Fi has much shorter range than a cellular signal. In remote areas that aren't served by Wi-Fi or cellular networks, individuals might use satellite communications to gain access to data networks.
Devices compatible with these networks communicate directly with satellites orbiting the Earth and therefore, work in almost any location where you can get a clear view of the sky. However, the trade-offs with satellite communications are that they are both extremely slow and extremely expensive to use. Cellular, Wi-Fi, and satellite networks provide connectivity over fairly large distances, covering entire buildings and large geographic areas.
In some cases, mobile devices may need to communicate over much shorter distances for different types of connections. Near-field communication or NFC technology uses electromagnetic induction to allow communication between devices that are about 10 centimeters away from each other. NFC technology is typically used for short, transactional communication such as mobile payments. Apple Pay and Android Pay use NFC technology to complete secure payment transactions.
Bluetooth technology works over a longer range than NFC allowing communications between devices that are located within about 30 feet of each other. Bluetooth is commonly used for connections between mobile devices and computers as well as for speakers, headsets, and car audio integration. ANT networks allow communications between sensors and devices used to manage those sensors and to receive their data. ANT is a proprietary technology developed by a company called ANT Wireless and is most commonly used for fitness monitoring devices.
Infrared communications may also be used over short distances but they are problematic because their signal may be blocked by walls, furniture, or even people in between the transmitter and receiver. You do sometimes find IR transmitters in mobile devices, commonly to provide to the ability to send commands to other devices such as home media components that use infrared remote controls. Finally, mobile devices may always connect to a network using USB connections.
Many devices have the ability to access network connections on a laptop or desktop computer when connected to those devices by USB. At the same time, a laptop or desktop may also use the mobile device's cellular network when they share a USB connection. That use case is known as device tethering. There are many different ways that mobile devices may gain access to data networks. As a cybersecurity professional, you should understand these various options.
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- IP addresses
- Routers, switches, and bridges
- VPNs and VPN concentrators
- Network intrusion detection and prevention
- Managing secure networks
- Tuning and configuring SIEMs
- Troubleshooting digital certificates
- Personnel, host, and mobile device security
- Mobile device management and tracking
- Securing common protocols