I don’t think anybody wants an infection. The consequences are hard to clean up, it may be expensive to fix and public knowledge of the fact will damage your image.
Remember when the only protection you needed (in the network) was a firewall because the only access to your internal network was the cabled connection from outside the building? Those were the days.
Wi-Fi has brought us welcome flexibility at work. However, wireless signals from your network can extend outside the walls of your building meaning your network is outside the building. If that data is important, we should protect it. An attacker can intercept and capture these wireless signals for analysis and have specialised software run attacks against the data looking for weaknesses in order to gain network access or decrypt the data.
What are the business risks?
- Data Theft/Loss/Corruption due to hackers accessing internal data.
- Denial of Service, where the ability to work over Wi-Fi is compromised.
- External brand damage – following public knowledge of data theft.
- Reputational Risk – amongst business partners, suppliers…
What is weak security?
Well, WEP has been around the longest and it is basically an open gate so please don’t use that. WPA-Personal and WPA2-Personal are what most of us use at home these days and it consists of using the one shared Wi-Fi password for the network. Utilised by everyone. If used in business, this poses opportunities for a determined hacker who can try to reverse-engineer or gain the static password through social engineering. Once the password is obtained, the business risks identified above are all possible.
What is strong security?
Strong network security relies on protocols that secure your data using authorised, authenticated network access and dynamic (not static) encryption of your data over the network. These protocols are an industry standard and are likely built into the devices already present on your network. Leverage this built-in security. Its Wi-Fi Alliance name is ‘WPA2-Enterprise’ and it is often more secure than your wired LAN.
The first step to securing your data is…
Maintain the paranoia. Worry enough about the consequences of a security breach and a plan for remedial action usually follows.
An audit is a good start. A focused security review of your networks by internal or external specialists. It may also uncover unknown (and undesired) equipment or operations.
In addition, the creation of a living corporate policy document that outlines the security policy of the company is recommended. One that is updated as technology changes and new threats are identified. A clear document that protects a company from it’s own staff making errors of judgement and one that defines procedures for dealing with “events”.
We know that installing security measures after the fact is common, but often its too late to repair the damage or to keep your reputation i.e. your brand, intact. Let’s encourage prevention. Check your WiFi now and stay safe.