Feeds

WLANs go feral in corporate undergrowth

DIY Wi-Fi causes security headache

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Frustrated employees are taking IT into their own hands by installing DIY Wi-Fi access points (APs) in their offices while their IT departments don’t even notice, according to Gartner. A rogue access point can leave an organisation’s network wide open and once on the network, an unauthorised user could go undetected.

Speaking at the IT Security Summit in London yesterday, John Girard, Gartner research veep, told delegates that organisations must make sure that employees or hackers do not install unauthorised wireless APs on their networks and that their APs are configured securely. Monitoring WLAN traffic "in the air" is the most effective means of detecting unauthorised systems, he added.

Spencer Parker, European technical director for AirDefense, a company that manufactures wireless intrusion detection sensors, echoes this view. He told The Register that organisations serious about their Wi-Fi security “must have the ability to control their airspace using a technique of passive scanning of all wireless channels and have termination [of connection] ability should the need arise".

The least expensive, but least effective, way of achieving this is to buy a handheld wireless sniffer (such as those offered by AirMagnet, Fluke Networks or NAI/McAfee) and patrol the perimeter of the organisation's Network. The most expensive, but most secure, method is to install a separate set of wireless intrusion detection sensors such as those offered by AirDefense.

On the subject of using tools to monitor your airspace, Parker added, “Your airspace become a known quantity and you can only secure against a known quantity.”

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi users are enjoying free Internet access in most cities as 50 per cent * of organisations still fail to use any security at all on their Wi-Fi access points.

It is widely recognised within the industry that the current Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) method of securing Wi-Fi networks is too weak and can be hacked within a few hours using freeware tools readily available on the web. The new emerging security standard, WPA from the Wi-Fi Alliance, seeks to make Wi-Fi networks more secure; but this will only bear fruit when equipment supporting WPA becomes readily available and then only if IT managers turn on this security feature. ®

* Strategic Planning Assumption: Through 2007, there will be unsecured WLANs in more than 50 per cent of all organisations and in more than 80 per cent of all WLAN-enabled homes (0.6 probability). Gartner, September 2004.

Related stories

Plea deal in 'war spamming' prosecution
Wi-Fi Alliance moots security set-up standard
Wi-Fi 'sniper rifle' debuts at DEFCON

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.