When businesses started enterprise-wide adoptions of Internet access, many of the connections between devices on the network were completed by physical wiring. However, just as offices started feeling comfortable with the security of their hardwired networks, wireless solutions came along and eroded that sense of comfort. By going wireless, businesses can clean up the physical appearance of the office and improve the mobility of their workforce.
With wireless connectivity, some security concerns exist. The good news is, solutions to these security concerns are readily available, making wireless networking just as safe as wired connections. Let’s take a look at what those concerns are, and their solutions.
What is Wireless Security?
Wireless security is the prevention of unauthorized access or damage to computers or data using wireless networks, which include Wi-Fi networks. Typically, wireless network security is delivered through wireless devices (usually a router/switch) that encrypts and secures all wireless communication by default. Even if a hacker is able to tap into your network, they will be unable to view any of your data due to this encryption. But that's not all wireless network security entails.
There are many different ways a hacker can attack your network, and along with that, many different ways to secure your wireless network.
What are the Security Issues in Wireless Environments?
Among the threats, some can occur in any networking environment (i.e. denial of service) while others are specific to wireless (i.e. rogue access and passive capturing). Let’s take a look at a few:
Denial of Service
Denial of service is a simple attack that relies on limiting access to services on a wired or wireless network. This hack is commonly accomplished by routing a tremendous amount of traffic at a specified target. With this approach, the high volume of traffic overwhelms the target machine and disrupts service. It is also possible for hackers to launch a denial of service attack by simply disrupting the signal on the network. This can be achieved by causing enough interference on one channel to interrupt the service.
A common method of attack used by hackers is the use of a rogue access point that is setup within range of your existing wireless network. The concept behind a rogue access point is simple. Hackers establish these false networks to fool people and devices in range to use those access points. This allows hackers to access data and information on legitimate devices that should be secure.
Passive capturing is another threat to security on your wireless network. Passive capturing is accomplished by setting up devices within range of the network and "listening" to the data traffic traveling along your network and capturing that information. What hackers do with that information differs depending upon the goal of the hacker. Some attempt to breakthrough your existing security settings by analyzing network traffic, while others simply look through the non-secured traffic to potentially access sensitive information regarding business operations.
5 Solutions to Wireless Security Threats
The best approach to wireless security is to look at the external and internal policies, management and security design that offer high levels of security and the flexibility to adapt to changing threats. These policies will help you determine how to manage access to your wireless network and determine how to keep authorized users safe and secure, and unauthorized users blocked.
Some of these solutions are best practices for any networking environment (No. 1-3), while others are specific solutions designed to address wireless security threats (No. 4-5). With a comprehensive approach, your organization can protect its wireless network.
With a quality firewall, your company can establish a strong security foundation to prevent unidentified access and offer secure network availability for your on-site and remote staff, business partners and customers. Firewalls are a security staple in all secure networking environments, wired and wireless.
2: Intrusion Detection
Intrusion detection and prevention software, also found in wired and wireless networks, provides your network with the software intelligence to immediately identify and halt attacks, threats, worms, viruses and more.
3: Content Filtering
Content filtering is just as important as the first two solutions in all network environments because it helps protect you from internal activity. Filtering and monitoring software prevents your employees from accessing content via the Internet that could potentially be harmful to your operations.
Authentication and identification methods protect the secure data on your network. In addition to password protection, solutions such as key fobs and biometric authentication ensure that only those with proper authority to access your secure data can do so, keeping your wireless network safe.
5: Data Encryption
Today’s business climate relies upon collecting, analyzing and (more importantly) sharing vital information about your business and its customers. Data encryption can be used to secure the wireless networks, Virtual Private Networks and Secure Socket Layers your data is shared on.
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