5 Effective Ways to Tackle Your Wireless Security
Just because you’ve freed your business of wires doesn’t mean you’ve freed it of risks.
Some businesses probably still employ miles of cabling to connect computers, printers, and other devices and to the Internet, but it’s a method that is quickly becoming outdated, and new businesses don’t even consider messy, wired networks except for particular industry needs.
Wireless networking is becoming the standard. Unfortunately, just as we’ve become accustomed to no longer tripping over wires or fixing loose ethernet plugs, we’ve also become more aware that some of the old security issues still exist and that new ones have joined the risk pool.
On a more positive note, solutions to wireless cybersecurity are readily available, meaning wireless networking is as secure as traditional wired connections.
What are some of the vulnerabilities of wireless networks?
Wireless security depends upon preventing unauthorized access or damage to computers or data sitting on your WiFi network. Usually, the router handles wireless network security by encrypting and securing all wireless communication. If a bad actor succeeds in tapping into your wireless network, they are usually kept from viewing any data due to that encryption.
But there is still more to learn about wireless network security.
Wireless threats can come in different flavours. Some are specific to wireless networks such as rogue access and passive data capture. Others can attack both wired and wireless network setups with distributed-denial-of-service attacks.
When hackers decide they’re going to target your organization or business’s wireless network, they may very well decide to gain rogue access. To accomplish this, they’ll set up their own WiFi within range of your wireless network and attempt to fool devices and people to log into the false network. From there, hackers are able to access data and information from legitimate devices that would otherwise be secure.
In a similar vein to attempting rogue access, passive capturing is also performed by setting up a device within range of your business wireless network. The purpose here, however, is to capture and record data traffic flowing through your network. Using information obtained this way, hackers can analyze your online wireless activity, look for security holes in your system, or sift through the non-secure network use for potentially sensitive information on your business, employees, or customers.
Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks
This type of cyberattack has been around nearly as long as the Internet itself. Just because you’ve gone wireless doesn’t mean you aren’t still susceptible to this classic (for lack of a better term) attack and having your network overwhelmed with traffic.
Simply put, a DDoS attack directs multiple systems — usually with the help of preprogrammed “bots” — to flood the network of their target to max out their bandwidth and, thus, disrupting its service. This can happen wirelessly as easily as it could with traditional hard-wired connections. By causing enough interference on a compromised wireless channel, hackers can achieve the same goal of disrupting service.
Combating wireless security threats
There are a few different ways to look at how you can best protect your wireless networks. One way is to look at how effective your internal policies regarding safe practices are in terms of email, web use, and passwords. You could also look at the structure of your network security by determining if your firewalls, encryption procedures, and anti-malware software are doing the most they can.
Here are some specific things to consider when it comes to wireless network security, although you’ll find most are equally applicable to any network you run.
Strengthen your firewalls
Effective firewalls should be an essential security component for all your business wireless networks. You can strictly control what information can go back and forth within your network, and how it’s accessed. This will help keep unauthorized access at bay while still allowing secure connectivity for both on and off-site staff, vendors, and customers.
Improve your authentication process
As far as employees and customers go, they should be using proper authentication procedures at all times. Robust password procedures are a must, of course. You can add layers of additional protection by including two-factor authentication that incorporates biometrics or physical components like key fobs or card swipes.
It won’t matter how good a network sniffer is if access can’t be fully achieved without an authentication method that requires purposeful human interaction.
Install intrusion detection software
Intrusion detection and prevention software is one of those tools that can help both wireless and traditional network setups. Using software intelligence, you are put into a position to quickly identify and stop all manner of cyberattacks, including breaches, viruses, malware, dodgy internal behaviour, and more.
Engage in content filtering
Not all dangers come from outside your network. Sometimes careless use of email or web browsing by employees can leave your wireless network vulnerable to exploitation. By installing content filtering software on your system, you can monitor and block content on the Internet that could damage your business’s networks. This can also scan and block potentially hazardous phishing emails employees might accidentally engage in.
Employ data encryption
Should the worst happen and a rogue actor gains access to some of your data, you can make sure that they can’t do anything with it by following strict encryption procedures. You can easily purchase and install data encryption software that scrambles your data whenever it goes from one place to another. It will only allow it to be unscrambled with the correct security keys. In addition to data transmitted over a wireless network, data encryption is handy for keeping information stored on servers — both onsite and off — from being exploited.
Up your security game now
Most of the above suggestions can be installed and set up by anyone with a little technical knowledge. It’s certainly within the standard skillset of an IT department.
If you’re unsure how to proceed, and don’t have the in-house expertise to get you set up, don’t hesitate to cast about for expert help. It could be in the form of one-time security installation and training, or it could be an ongoing service contract with a whole team of experts who can help you at any time.
Whatever path you choose, don’t let your wireless network go too long without more effective protection. Data breaches and business disruption are inconvenient, embarrassing, and expensive. Don’t get caught by surprise.
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