The holiday season is always stressful, but for network engineers the greatest stress is all the new technology that members of staff bring in to connect to the company’s network in January, and the security issues that accompany all these new devices.
There are two sides to the problem. The first is network access. A tablet or smartphone, together with its owner – if they haven’t been approved and registered by the network administration team for full access – may lack the right credentials to log on to the WLAN in a secure and trusted manner. As a result they may turn to guest access via a second insecure WLAN. This means data flowing to and from the device is open to eavesdropping and interception by a third party – which may go undiscovered.
The second aspect applies even to devices which have been approved and registered for secure access and which log on through an authorised and encrypted connection. The risk here is data leakage, which could happen through storing corporate data on the device itself or through using cloud-based storage solutions like Dropbox.
At these times – and when employees leave an organisation – it’s important to have a mechanism for revoking any access privileges that may have been given to specific devices. Some devices also offer a remotely triggered erase facility for deleting any stored business data.
Having considered user network access and data leakage, you need to consider keeping unwanted users out of your network. The first thing to think about is prevention. You need to ensure that you’re protected against external attacks and internal threats, device configuration vulnerabilities and RF signal bleedover outside the building.
The best defence is to carry out regular security audits to ensure you’re addressing all potential threats. This includes carrying out a site survey outside the building perimeter, RF spectrum sweeps and if necessary adding higher authentication security mechanisms. It’s also important to educate users on security and ensure that they understand and comply with corporate security policy.
You then need a way to uncover and stop attacks on your network. Hardware vendors may offer rudimentary security tools, but only a dedicated wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) can achieve this automatically and in an adequate and robust manner across multiple sites.
BYOD is here to stay but as long as you are prepared you can make it work for both your business and your users.