Wireless networks are often overlooked in the business world. However, the truth is, these days, wireless access points are increasingly being used for all manner of business purposes—from file sharing to inter-office communication. This means that any business that doesn’t have a plan for dealing with wireless security risks is at risk.
Basic Security Steps
This blog post will take you through some basic steps for safeguarding your wireless network and ensuring that it doesn’t become an entry point into your other devices and networks or an inadvertent source of revenue from malicious hackers. WatchGuard Online offers a range of wireless products with security built in.
1) What level of security do you need to provide
The first thing you need to do is to determine what level of security you need to provide. There are three basic levels:
This is appropriate for small-to-medium businesses and is sufficient for most employees who just need to share files, access the internet, and make phone calls.
This should cover the needs of larger corporations with large network environments that require more security controls and include VPNs, web servers, or virtual private networks (VPNs).
In a very strong private network environment, this might be necessary if you are running public access networks (such as an open Wi-Fi hotspot) or have important data that needs to be protected from the Internet (such as your email server).
2) What type of security do you need to provide
The next step is to decide what type of security you need. There are three main types:
Firewalls: Firewalls are software devices or programs that filter incoming and outgoing traffic through your network. The most secure practice is to have multiple layers of firewalls—also known as a ‘layered’ defense system, as this gives you more effective protection if one firewall fails.
Antivirus: Antiviruses are basically software that identifies, quarantines, and removes any malicious code that is attempting to infect your devices. A lot of corporate users believe this protects them from unauthorized access, but it is only a matter of time before a new virus is created that gets past the antivirus and affects your sensitive data (which will often be on more than one system).
Network monitoring: This is another method of tracking any suspicious activity on your network and it is often used in tandem with antiviruses. Network monitoring can then monitor the malware as soon as it attempts to access or transmit any sensitive data.
3) What devices do you need to protect
The next thing to consider is what devices to protect. There are two main choices:
Endpoints: In this scenario, you are protecting specific devices such as laptops, desktops, and mobile phones. The goal would be to only keep sensitive data on these specific devices for the most part and not on other systems in your network (such as a web server or other switches).
Network: In this scenario, you are protecting your entire network (which includes any switches and routers in each office) so that unauthorized access can’t occur without being noticed. This can also include workstations, desktop computers, telephones, and printers.
There you have it: a simple three-step system for protecting your wireless network. The first step is to identify what level of security your company really needs—either low, medium, or high. The second step is to decide what type of security the company needs—either firewalls, antivirus software, or a network monitoring system. Finally, you need to decide which devices that need protection to provide your business with the ultimate protection.
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