Enterprise Wi-Fi networks face unique challenges, including managing a multitude of connected devices.
Your enterprise doesn’t stop running, and neither can your Wi-Fi. Enterprise IT engineers have many considerations when managing the WLAN, including the density of devices, roaming support, coverage issues, interference, and many more. But security has taken center stage, given the rising number of data breaches that have compromised all industries.
To safeguard a network, you have to know what you’re up against. What are the security threats for your WLAN? Here are some considerations for optimal enterprise network security.
A multitude of devices to manage
Your enterprise may have a vast coverage area, meaning many different types of devices are entering and exiting the network boundary each day. A big challenge is putting security systems in place that will adequately protect the network from all these potential threats.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is vastly increasing the number of devices trying to connect to Wi-Fi. According to Gartner, the number of IoT endpoints will reach 5.8 billion in the enterprise and automotive industries this year.
Mobile IoT devices include fitness trackers, health monitors, smartwatches, and more. Employees and visitors may be bringing in new equipment that you’re not even aware of. In addition, your office may have already incorporated smart equipment and appliances that are communicating with other connected devices.
The essential step in combatting the security vulnerabilities presented by the IoT is to install and update enterprise-grade security software on all company-owned devices—and on any employee equipment that is part of a BYOD program. Also, educate workers on best practices when using Wi-Fi—onsite or off—and introduce multi-factor authentication. Employees have to verify their identity with at least two steps to access the network.
Another technique that works for some enterprises is to create a guest Wi-Fi network. This keeps the primary business network secure from the random, visiting devices that enter the network boundary.
Risks for access points
Wi-Fi depends on the deployment of access points throughout the network area, and wireless networks have unique security threats. For example, if wireless networks are deployed with "default, unsecured base station configurations," hackers can connect to application servers and pillage proprietary data.
And even if access points are secured, criminals could deploy rogue access points, which are unauthorized access points that appear within the network. Rogue APs may be brought in by an employee who doesn't consider the security risk, or deployed to engage in malicious activity. Encryption likely won’t be activated on a rogue access point, so the hacker could easily gain access to sensitive information. Unauthorized APs can also be directly connected to a wired network to gain access and transmit data.
To combat this threat, network managers should monitor for rogue access points constantly. Additional preventative measures include a requirement for both the access points and devices to use identity authentication methods before a connection can occur between them.
Implement a 24/7 monitoring system
Because traditional security tactics—like wired equivalent privacy (WEP) encryption, WPA/WPA2 security protocols, and end-to-end protection—are not 100% consistent and effective, enterprises require additional visibility.
The primary purpose of wireless network monitoring is to help maintain high performance and fewer drops in service. But the visibility it provides also gives network managers a grasp on everything that’s happening—helping them detect anything strange that could be a security threat.
A quality solution shows what’s happening throughout your network, and with each device, 24/7. This information may provide another layer of security or help establish benchmarks for additional security monitoring solutions.
7SIGNAL's Mobile Eye and Sapphire Eye help to monitor your Wi-Fi, ensuring high performance and quality when you need it most. When you understand the users entering and exiting your network area and can view how common issues impact service, you’ll be better prepared to set up a Wi-Fi security plan that works for your enterprise.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in Wi-Fi Performance Management. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wi-Fi performance management solution that continuously monitors the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity and network ROI. The platform was designed to support the Wi-Fi management needs of the world’s largest organizations, educational institutions, hospitals and government agencies. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 5 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.