Wi-Fi Connections and Midsize Security

Added by on Mar 13, 2014
Topic: Mobile

Potential Risk

For Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency, security is a major concern. Oerting made a point to express his concerns to the BBC that public Internet hotspots are being used more frequently by cyber criminals. He also warned Wi-Fi users that everything sent via Wi-Fi is potentially at risk, citing a rise in the misuse of public connections. Hackers are stealing data, identities and passwords to eventually steal money from users. Users log in at their local coffee shops, thinking they are safe. Oerting even mentioned that a security researcher was once breached using the European Parliament's public wireless network.

Many wireless routers at homes and businesses have WPA/WP2 and enterprise-grade encryption, which makes it difficult to steal data. However, hackers can easily deploy "sniffing" tactics by maliciously tapping into networks that are unsecured in the public realm. Oerting further notes that hackers can set up fake wireless connections as well — and customers are none the wiser.

Midsize Connections

Cyber crime is a big threat to a midsize firm's productivity and even its ultimate survival. Europol's warnings parallel what IT professionals at midsize firms typically advise their employees: Important transactions and sensitive data transfers should not be made over Wi-Fi connections. Some midsize companies have not warned their staff about Wi-Fi security risks. In an age of growing cyber threats and surging BYOD policies, adequate guidelines are necessary to keep corporate data safe; the more employees are educated, the better.

Through BYOD policies, IT professionals often find out about the mobile device usage patterns that employees follow — for example, whether they access the Web on unsecured networks. A virtual private network (VPN) is one tool that enables a device to send and receive encrypted data over Wi-Fi networks. Proxies are another tool that act as gateways between a local network and the Internet. Proxies may also have the ability to monitor employee use of outside resources, offering increased security.

Secure Advice

Free Wi-Fi is a great service, but there are great risks. Companies and their employees who are aware of security challenges can play a part in keeping corporate data safe. BYOD presents a challenge today, which is why experienced vendors are working with IT professionals to meet every security demand and need. Common sense and action are necessary because complacency can put data at risk and harm a growing business.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Our Methodology

Anyone can claim they do wireless site surveys, including those that walk around using free utilities that check for basic signal strength, without any training or understanding of how wireless works. That may be fine if you only need basic Internet connectivity, but if your network supports mission-critical applications, you need a professional-grade solution.

Our methodologies are what differentiate us from our competition. We start with the belief that combining the best tools and training with years of experience leads to the best wireless solutions available. Our formula for success includes the following:

Expert Certified Personnel

We start with a commitment to having the best trained personnel possible. We only employ or contract with Certified Wireless Network Professionals (CWNP).

We are proud to be a member of the prestigious CWNE roundtable, an exclusive committee of wireless experts dedicated to developing the highest level and most respect vendor-neutral certification in the wireless industry, as well as writing technical whitepapers.


Predictive Modeling

Predictive models, also known as virtual site surveys allow us to efficiently and accurately identify the number of access points required, as well as their initial placement and configuration. Modeling is ideal for creating "what if" scenarios that show us the effects of changes in real time. Our designs always start with a model which we then validate.


RF Spectrum Analysis

Because wireless networks operate in unlicensed frequencies, potential interference from numerous devices such as microwaves, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, video cameras, etc. can have a significant negative impact. RF spectrum analyzers are the only devices that can identify physical-layer interference, and no onsite wireless site survey is complete without this service.


Onsite Site Surveys / Validation

When the highest degree of accuracy is required for your mission-critical applications, there is no substitute for a professional-grade manual site survey.

Our surveys start with temporarily mounting the same access points and antennas that will be permanently installed. We then use professional-grade software to test not only for signal strength, but Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) to test the signal's viability, interference and data rates. Our thorough approach is the most accurate solution available.


Detailed Deliverables

Our reports spell out the facts, and leave no doubt in the customer's mind as to what the wireless network does or will look like.