Key considerations for securing your network for corporate and remote workers
Key considerations for securing your wifi network for corporate and remote workers
Nowadays, most of your company’s data will exist in digital format, which poses a number of security risks. Wifi has replaced a large proportion of physical wire boundaries with virtual ones. Devices have evolved from static PCs to roaming ones. More people than ever require remote access to their employer’s network. Therefore, it’s no longer sufficient to rely on your WiFi’s default firewall. Technology has evolved, and security needs to keep up with it.
Cyber security breaches can be deliberate, as in the case of a brute force attack (a trial-and-error method used to crack encrypted data) or unwittingly from the inside, such as being a victim of an “evil twin” or “phishing” attack. As wifi has become commonplace and the use of personal devices widespread, cyber attacks have evolved to take advantage of their inherent weaknesses.
How are Wireless Local Area Networks vulnerable?
Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) transmit and receive data using Radio Frequency (RF) rather than wires. This makes them vulnerable to a range of cyber security issues. This includes denial of service attacks where the network is deliberately overwhelmed by a large volume of traffic, hijacking by assuming the identity of a valid user or eavesdropping where 3rd parties intercept data.
What risks does WiFi pose to businesses?
For organizations like schools and colleges, hospitals, large retail and office complexes, WiFi comes with significant security problems. And businesses’ increasing reliance on IoT (Internet of Things) devices can leave further gaps in protection. While many business owners are aware they need to protect computers and phones, as more and more smart devices are connected to the internet, the security risks related to IoT significantly increase.
Here are some of the most common wifi security risks:
Piggybacking is the practice of using another subscriber’s wireless internet access service without their permission or knowledge. It can be done from any wireless-enabled computer. Once a rogue user has gained access, they can hack into sensitive information.
Wardriving is very similar to piggybacking. It is carried out by people who know that the broadcast range of a wireless access point makes internet connections available beyond the boundaries of a home. They drive around a given area, searching for unsecured networks, sometimes guided by a powerful antenna.
Evil Twin Attacks
An evil twin attack is where a wifi signal, stronger than the legitimate one, mimics a public network access point to entrap unsuspecting users. These users will have no idea this is happening. The attacker can then use special tools to read the victim’s data, including credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
Distribution of Malware
Malware is software specially designed to damage, disrupt or gain access to a computer system. Hackers use unsecured WiFi connections to distribute malware and infect networks, so it poses a serious threat to your cybersecurity.
Protecting your business from wifi security breaches
To counter wifi security issues, whether they take the form of deliberate hacks or unwitting mishaps, you need a futureproof cybersecurity strategy that puts you in the strongest possible position and protects valuable data. Recent improvements in wireless protocols and infrastructure technologies have produced a range of viable WLAN security options:
Change default passwords
The first line of defence is to program personalized passwords on network devices. By eliminating default passwords that are easily hacked, you will give your network a baseline of cybersecurity and protection.
Separate your Wi-Fi networks
Having two separate Wi-Fi networks for staff and guests will restrict unwanted access to your business’s data and prevent unauthorized users from accidentally viewing sensitive information or infecting your network with malware.
Encrypt your data
By encrypting your company’s wireless data, you prevent people who have gained unauthorized access to the network from viewing the information within that network. Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), WiFi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2, and WPA3 are all options that encrypt information effectively, but WPA3 is the strongest option.
How can remote workers access the company network safely?
Your company’s network will need additional security measures to protect its integrity as the remote workforce grows. Developing a comprehensive remote access policy including both technical and practical measures, will ensure remote employees are not a weak link in the network’s cybersecurity:
Set up a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows remote workers to connect securely to the company network even when they’re away from the office. VPNs encrypt transmissions at the start and endpoints and keep out unidentified traffic.
Employ strong encryption and enhance user authentication
External security threats can be mitigated by encrypting data and using enhanced authentication. This will help to protect the confidentiality and integrity of communications and securely verify identities.
Update public usage terms
In public settings, it’s possible to glean sensitive information simply by looking at an unfiltered screen or stealing a device. Remote employees need to be made aware of these risks, and trained to be discreet when accessing information in public.
Use HTTPS-enabled websites.
When you connect to an HTTPS secured server, your browser checks the website’s security certificate and verifies it was issued by a legitimate authority. HTTPS websites block intrusive agents from tampering with the connection between websites and browsers to acquire personal information. Training a workforce to be HTTPS aware will further reduce opportunities for breaches.
Use Specialist Cybersolutions
There are now multiple, purpose-built cybersecurity programs on the market that are specially designed to deal with the complexities of wifi, remote working and multiple devices. They can both protect the network and prevent unauthorized, malicious access to your data.
A sophisticated, flexible security system such as Cisco Meraki provides centralised management of mobiles, PCs, Macs and the whole network. And today, network management doesn’t even need to be tied to the office. Secure, cloud-based systems facilitate easy-to-operate remote networks that can be run from anywhere and almost any device, bringing essential flexibility to the whole workforce.