Managing Security Risks in a Wireless World

Wireless networks are extremely prevalent today, both at home and in work settings. This increased adoption of wireless networks can be attributed to lower cost and ease of installation, combined with benefits such as increased portability and productivity.

Setting up wireless networks generally does not require drilling holes or cabling. All you need to do to connect is plug in a wireless access point (AP) or router. The lack of cabling expands a network to one without a physical boundary and allows an end user to be portable and productive from anywhere within the wireless network range.

This open connectivity brings with it risks, however, some of which are similar to those in wired networks, while others are unique and increased on wireless networks. Poor security standards, coupled with immature technologies, flawed implementations and limited user awareness, make it difficult to design and deploy “secure” wireless networks. All the vulnerabilities of wired networks exist in wireless networks as well. The most noteworthy is the openness of the communication medium (airwaves). This is akin to storing valuables in a glass safe.

Wireless security threats include confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) of resources and information. Organizations have information to protect. This information can be financial, personal and intellectual, all of which can be sensitive. Unauthorized intruders can intercept and gain access, disclosing sensitive information (confidentiality breach) if encryption and other protective mechanisms between wireless devices are weak or vulnerable.

Disclosed information can be altered (integrity breach) intentionally by…


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