In the fast-moving world, you need to utilize every possible technology into your productivity. By offering wireless Internet access(wireless network) within the organization, you can open new doors to success for your business. You can offer high-speed connectivity, with device mobility at a lower price to your employees. For a non-IT business such as a cafe or restaurant, you can get higher customer retention with a free to use Wi-Fi connection.
With many advantages over wired connections, every organization desires its own wireless IP network. To do so, they deploy a stand-alone wireless network using routers, and wireless access points (WAPs) to extend the wireless router’s range.
But just like any other networking technology, a lack of attention to security can be a threat to your business productivity.
“With Power comes great responsibility”
In wireless networks, radio waves carry data packets from one host to the other. But they can propagate far beyond the building containing the wireless base station and hosts. If you have an office on a lease in a multi-story building, your wireless signals will probably reach the floors above and below you. Someone with a good knowledge of IT can perform malicious operations with an access to your server and data center using the underlying wireless network.
Added security with WAP2 (802.11i):
802.11 is the IEEE standard protocol that is used to establish a Wi-fi framework. But the original 802.11 security specification commonly known as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) contained many serious security flaws. It failed to provide authentication and data encryption between a host and a wireless access point.
In order to establish more reliable wireless network connections, new stronger security mechanism was added in 802.11 This new standard is implemented as Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2). If your Wi-Fi router does not show WPA2 under the default encryption protocol, then most likely it is set to an outdated WEP protocol.
WPA provides the TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) encryption scheme to mix the encryption key. It verifies that the encryption key hasn’t been altered during the data transfer. WAP2 further improves the security of a network adding another stronger encryption method called AES (Advanced Encryption Standard).
Place your router in a physically secured location:
Someone within the company can simply walk in the server room and reset the router. Entire business can come to a halt with such a malicious act. To avoid this, you should implement security policies in your company. The wireless equipment should be placed in a demilitarized zone like a locked room, with limited access. A security policy in practice will prevent unauthorized access to the server and router. It will ensure that no one within the organization can access sensitive data which can have devastating effects if leaked.
Set a unique network name and password:
Right after establishing a wireless network in your organization, you will be able to connect with the server and other systems. How? by proving a password. If you use common nouns and easy to guess words as your password, all the advanced encryption and security in the network is useless.
Also, the vendor-supplied service set identifier (SSID) may contain the device model number. You don’t want any outsider to know which router you are using in your company. Therefore, always change the vendor supplied settings especially the network name (SSID) and the password. Always use at least 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number, and 1 special character to make a strong password.
Use wireless intrusion prevention systems:
Someone can set up a fake Wi-Fi network, reset an access point (AP) to factory defaults, and someone can plug in their own AP. Without an intrusion prevention system that can detect rogue-APs, these security flaws will go undetected. You should perform security vulnerability assessments from time to time to test the reliability of your wireless network. A good cyber security strategy includes regular access point scanning in your network. It also includes regular firmware and software upgrades in your wireless router and server.
Use the latest firewall to secure your wireless network:
Firewalls can be implemented as a hardware device or a software. You should add a hardware firewall between the router and the modem that connects to the Internet. Modern routers come with a built-in firewall mechanism. With the increased number of cyber-attacks, manufacturers are constantly updating security in their latest models. Therefore, make sure that you are not using an outdated piece of equipment that can open vulnerabilities for attackers. With a software firewall, you can double the security by installing it on the computer with an Internet connection. These specific software programs are specialized to provide network security by allowing or denying incoming and outgoing connections.
Wireless networks have become business critical components in an organization. They provide a convenient mode of communication, but overlooking its security may result in devastating consequences. You should prevent yourself from becoming an easy target by applying the best wireless security practices discussed here. An early investment in IT consultancy services to assess your current networking infrastructure can save any security disasters in the future.