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Network Administrator introduces a new wrinkle

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by teqniqal, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. teqniqal

    teqniqal Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas
    This post affects anyone using networks, so if the moderator can cross-post this to the Sound and Lighting groups as well, it would be appreciated.

    I just came from a meeting for a school project where the School District IT department wanted to have a coordination meeting with the sound and lighting contractors regarding the Wireless Access Points (WAPs) for the two systems.

    Background:
    • We specified that the dedicated and fully isolated network for the digital audio and A/V controls have a dedicated WAP to allow the owner's sound staff (and authorized students) be able to remotely control the sound mixing console and Dante network with a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone with an app.
    • We specified that the dedicated and fully isolated network for the dimming system and controls have a dedicated WAP to allow the owner's lighting staff (and authorized students) be able to remotely control the lighting console from their tablet or mobile phone with an app (remote focus function).
    The IT department is deploying a new system to all of the schools, and in the school wide WAP system (that is also in the auditorium), the new 802.11 ax WAPs are able to self-regulate their power levels and are programmed to 'seek and destroy' (overpower) any and all non-authorized WiFi devices (yes, a bit Orwellian for my taste). It would see my two dedicated WAPs as enemies and overpower them. So, they want to abandon our WAPs and connect their WAPs to our two isolated dedicated network systems through a heavily managed Cisco switch. They say they can isolate our two networks as we have requested, and only let the dedicated devices connect through to our two respective systems. I get it -- its all about security and threat reduction.

    The difficulties I see are this:
    • If their system goes down, our local remote control of our systems are screwed.
    • Bluetooth also operates in the WiFi band, so will this 'seek and destroy' mess-up simple things like Bluetooth wireless keyboards, mice, and headsets? Will it disrupt a wireless sound feed from a guest's phone into our sound system?
    • Any WiFi band (2.4 or 5GHz) type DMX extenders become useless in this environment.
    • Any casual use of a laptop or phone to create a local temporary WiFi hotspot is shot to hell.
    • WiFi links between camera memory cards and bulk storage or a laptop will be shot to hell.
    • Any guest artist that might bring a WiFi or Bluetooth connection between their own equipment will be hammered into non-usability.
    • We are wanting to keep the A/V and lighting networks TOTALLY isolated so software can't and won't automatically update, but it is my understanding that MS Windows (10) has some curious 'sub channel' tunneling is does to get updates and it is difficult to kill this activity (persistent little MF!). Truth? or rumor?
    So, I am curious, has anyone else encountered this?

    What other gotcha's might I need to look-out for?

    Open for comment. The systems aren't up and flying yet, but will be within a month or so. Fingers crossed.
     
  2. dmx

    dmx Member

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  3. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Technical Director, JAPAC L'Anse Creuse P.S.
    Location:
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    We had this problem to a small degree, but working with our IT, showing them that our system does not want to see any sort of filtering or any of that voodoo that they do on our lines.

    Showing them that they could not get it to work running thru their system, we had so many drops that it became unusable within 5 min, and we were the only ones in the room.

    I also tried to get them to not offer free wifi in the theater, makes it even easier for them, they didn't like that option....

    In the end, they said go ahead and run your own wifi system(we run two, lights/sound) and they just ignore us...they also did not turn on the hunter/killing option...

    It is sometimes tough dealing with some IT folks, they look at the world thru blinders sometimes, and think that because they have certificates, they think they know more than anyone else.

    My feelings about IT, they should be working with/for us, not as there own little kingdom...

    Good luck...

    Sean...

    *edit: spelling/edit line "with/for us" as sometimes we are also not as smart as "we" think we are(speaking of myself)
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  4. Calc

    Calc Active Member

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    We ended up with a similar system- here's what we have:
    Independent network switch for show network devices. All cable runs lead back to our switch in the booth, not the regular network closets. We aren't running Dante or pushing content over the network, so we left sound/lighting/video all on the same network.
    The switch in the booth is then connected to the campus network. The university has that port relegated to it's own VLAN that is only accessible to certain users, so random strangers can't get in. It's inaccessible from the internet, obviously.
    This lets us connect in from anywhere on the campus network, but only us. If the campus network crashes, our network is still on it's own independent switch so everything keeps running. We'd lose remote access, but nothing else.

    I'm guessing your network guys are being overzealous with their "Seek and Destroy" description. It makes more sense for an access point to AVOID congested frequencies- that's what ours do here. Best-practice for AP's would be to transmit at the minimum necessary power to avoid interference with other nearby friendly AP's. It's possible that they're set to boost their transmit power if they see something else there, I doubt they're going to start jamming any rogue frequencies. Jamming is illegal in the WiFi bands under FCC Part 15 rules- it's that "devices may not cause interference and must accept interference from other sources" sticker you see on tons of stuff. Unlicensed devices are allowed to overpower each other, but not to actively jam.
     
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  5. StradivariusBone

    StradivariusBone Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    Any vendors trying to run a hotspot for merch tables would have a problem. My other thought, being a HS TD myself, is what is the personal cell number of the IT contact that I need to call afterhours when this system fails during an event and I've got a client screaming at me because sound and light stopped working?

    I've never heard of an AP that blocks other signals. As has been stated I think that goes against a lot of FCC regs.
     
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  6. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    The Marriott decision is not a universal precedent. They were sending deauth packets to outside SSID's for the purpose of blocking them and generating a profit. The FCC has not made clear a comprehensive list of legal and illegal applications of rogue AP containment and the use of deauth packets, but reading between existing precedents here is my understanding of the landscape:

    Probably legal:
    • Issuing deauth packets to AP's that are trying to mimic your SSID's (direct security threat for man-in-the-middle attack)
    • Issuing deauth packets to rogue AP's that are on your own LAN (direct security threat for allowing unsecured access to your internal network)
    Definitely legal:
    • Detecting wired switch ports that have rogue AP's connected to them on your LAN, and disabling the switch port thereby severing the rogue AP from your network.
    Probably illegal:
    • Issuing deauth packets to AP's which are not on your own LAN and do not pose a security risk to your network, such as personal hotspots.
    Definitely illegal:
    • Signal interference against other radio-based FCC approved devices (Bluetooth, Zigbee, non-WiFi devices that also operate in 2.4/5GHz, etc.)
      • Also, this is not how Cisco's "Air Marshal" feature works. It works by transmitting a WiFi packet that other WiFi devices must receive and interpret. Non-WiFi devices would not be impacted by this particular security feature.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  7. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    My professional opinion, coming from both production and IT background, is that you MUST have the highest administrative official above the Production facility/staff explain to the highest administrative official above the IT staff that their proposed solution will not allow you to provide acceptable service to your customers, whether they're paying in cash or district funny-money, and that they're going to have to find a way to make an exception to that policy.

    It's not a technical decision. It's a business decision driven by technical requirements.

    Expect to possibly have to explain to your colonel why, before he goes off to do battle with his counterpart.

    That can be expanded a lot, but I'm coming off a 12 hour shift in an 80 hour week, and I don't have the energy. :)
     
  8. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Having worked at many schools that have a policy for everything, usually there isn't anyone high enough up to make a decision that overrides a districtwide capital improvement, which is what I assume this is.
    When you get honest with the local IT guy, he will probably tell you to do what you need to in order to make what you need work, as long as he doesn't get in trouble and it isn't obvious if ever there was an inspection.

    You can easily test the search and destroy protocol they have, but my understanding is they need to be on the same wired network in order to work. They can't kill rogue access points that are just closeby.

    So you should easily be able to run your own wired network and have your own physically hidden APs. Like put them in a black cardboard box in the catwalk.
    I'd recommend making the ssid hidden and obscure like Netgear123, just in case there is an inspection.
     
  9. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    No, Mac; I've worked with what they're talking about.

    Building Wireless Management stuff knows which SSID's it's providing, and it listens over-air for connections to other SSIDs, and stomps them out by deassociating.

    To avoid that, someone with admin access to the wifi system config is going to have to add the production SSIDs to the whitelist; there's no real way to skate it.
     
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  10. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    I'd love to know what company offers a product like that. I know Meraki and Ubiquiti has to disable the active network in order to be in defensive mode.

    Also, thinking more into getting around the IT team, might be worth testing using 802.11a. Most modern access points don't support it anymore and therefore might not be able to squash it.
     
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  11. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Really? I just put in some UBNT dual bands last year, they still supported 11a.
     
  12. Lyle Williams

    Lyle Williams Active Member

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    Transmitting for the express purpose of preventing intercommunication (even jamming your own system) is probably illegal.

    Sending your own equipment an intelligible packet telling it to stop will be OK.

    And yes, this needs to get escalated. There may need to be agreements like no institutional (ie, non-show) information on the show network. IT are trying to protect personal and corporate information from disclosure via inadequately managed rougue networks.
     
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  13. Lyle Williams

    Lyle Williams Active Member

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    The number of SSIDs on a campus will also be huge, with every second smartphone providing a personal hotspot.

    Good luck to anyone who wants to track and manage that.
     
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  14. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    This isn't a manufacturer reference, but note in this article that the issue we're discussion -- systems to look for rogue APs and attack their connections -- is *recommended* by PCI DSS (the credit card security council) for networks that process card transactions:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_intrusion_prevention_system
     
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  15. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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  16. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Well-Known Member

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    You might have a discussion with the IT folks as to what "overpowering" means. Most goods of this nature operating in "unlicensed bands" are required
    by the FCC to not generate interference.. and to accept interference, so if it's truely an overpowering of a band or channel, uh that's illegal dude... I can see where the system
    might blacklist a mac address, and that's a more likely scenario.. but I'd hold their feet to the fire and make them define their terms. If it's truly
    an overpowering situation... might remind them that anyone complaining about it to the FCC could cost the district some big fines. There already have
    been cases of Theaters and other locales that jammed cell phone signals, and got in hot water for it. Someone may be playing fast and loose with the rules here.
    If we had to dump a bunch of wireless mics at the feet of the FCC, it's only fair that the wifi comply with the rules too.
     
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  17. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Nope. Deassociate frames are a *sanctioned* method of dropping clients from wifi networks.

    Really: read the article, JT.

    Got nothing to do with "jamming", as that term of art is used in wireless communications.
     
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  18. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Well-Known Member

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    From the article
    "
    Wrongful classification of an external AP or client device as rogue and taking action to isolate it can have a number of negative consequences ranging from reputation damage to legal implications.

    A good WIPS solution will detect and provide visibility into all APs and client devices on or around an organisation's airspace. By the nature of how Wi-Fi works, even if a client device or AP is not directly connected to an organisation's network, it will still show up as being in its airspace. It is very important, therefore that a business is able to not only see that device but understand if it is truly connected or just within range before they take action against that device or AP.

    "
    Very few WIPS can accurately classify client devices and APs with low enough false positive or negative rates for admins to have confidence to enable prevention. WIPS that utilise techniques to correlate MAC addresses of client devices seen in the air with MAC addresses seen by network switching equipment are notoriously prone to high false positive rates and rendered useless. The same situation also occurs for WIPS utilising custom IPS detection signatures where manual intervention of tuning and scripting these signatures can result in a unusable WIPS. WIPS that utilise re-broadcast packets both on ethernet cabling and over the air are the most accurate and the ones where automatic prevention can be confidently enabled.

    Without accurate classification, the prevention aspect of WIPS will no longer be immediate and instead becomes a manual process for the IT team or department."


    So if the IT guys were saying the new stuff would break the standalone existing theater SSID and network... then their detection and reaction ability is not tuned well enough to avoid complaints from someone trying to say run their tablet off their phones hotspot somewhere down the hall while they are selling cookies and punch.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
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  19. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Well-Known Member

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    Now if someone can rig me an EMP rifle to take out squealing audience hearing aids, I’m all in.. FCC be damned :)
     
  20. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Sure, JT. I absolutely understand where the break between technical capability and administrative control lives.

    The *question* was whether such technical capabilities existed at all, and clearly, they do, and our OP might have them imposed on him, whether it violates some law or regulation to do so or not -- he's not imposing the control, so he's off the hook.
     

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