Wireless LAN Security — It’s YOUR Responsibility
Wireless LAN Security and Intrusion Detection are of utmost importance today. The risks of a wireless security breach to businesses, government, education and health care are growing daily. Cracking methods have become much more sophisticated, innovative and more accessible with easy-to-use Windows or Linux-based tools being made available on the web at no charge. The COST of a wireless security breach can easily reach into the millions for smaller organizations and hundreds of millions for larger institutions. Some organizations that have no wireless access points installed do not feel that they need to address wireless security concerns. They are WRONG. If a laptop is plugged into the corporate network, a cracker can break in through the wireless card-equipped laptop and gain access to the wired network.
Wireless LAN Security-conscious enterprises are fortifying their wireless LANs with a layered approach to security that resembles the accepted security practices of wired networks. This layered approach to security addresses all network components:
- Secure Wireless LAN Devices
- Secure Communications
- Monitor for Security and Compliance
1. Secure Wireless LAN Devices
Perimeter control for the wireless LAN starts with deploying personal firewalls on every wireless-equipped laptop and also includes the deployment of enterprise-class access points that offer advanced security and management capabilities. The wireless LAN should be segregated from the enterprise wired network as part of a WLAN to allow for wireless-specific management and security policies that do not affect the wired network.
For complete Wireless LAN Security, all access points should be completely locked down and reconfigured from their default settings. The SSIDs and passwords of the access points should be changed from their default names. Some organizations choose to establish set channels of operation for each AP to identify all off-channel traffic as suspicious activity.
To secure mobile users at hotspots etc, organizations can deploy the AirDefense Personal product. An industry first, AirDefense Personal protects mobile users of hotspots and other public Wi-Fi networks from wireless-specific risks that could expose private data and transactions. AirDefense Personal is a software agent that runs on Windows PCs and monitors for malicious or accidental wireless activity and wireless misconfigurations that may cause security exposures or policy violations. The AirDefense Personal agent offers protection from a broad and growing set of new risks that directly target vulnerable wireless users and unobtrusively notifies the user when risky activity occurs.
2. Secure Communication — Authentication & Encryption
In deploying secure wireless LANs, IT security and network managers face the most difficult decision in choosing how to secure WLAN communication with multiple forms of authentication and encryption. Like installing locks and keys on a door to control who can enter, the next layer of wireless LAN security is to control which users can access the wireless LAN. To provide basic authentication, most access points support simple MAC address filtering that maintains a list of approved stations’ MAC addresses. While this is not foolproof, MAC address filtering provides basic control over which stations can connect to your network.
Organizations that rely upon MAC address filtering for access control leave themselves vulnerable to simple identity thefts. Larger enterprises with more complex wireless LANs with hundreds of stations and dozens of access points require more sophisticated access control through incorporating remote authentication dial-in service (RADIUS) servers.
3. Monitor for Security & Compliance
Like a video camera that monitors all activity in a secure building 24 hours a day, a critical layer of wireless LAN security requires monitoring of the network to identify rogue WLANs, detect intruders and impending threats, and enforce WLAN security policies.
As an example of the need for monitoring, access points that are upgraded for WPA must be monitored to ensure the access point remains properly configured, according to Gartner. WLAN monitoring must scale to fit the specific needs of an enterprise. Some piece-meal solutions work for smaller organizations but do not scale for large enterprises with dozens or hundreds of locations around the world. Large enterprises require a cost-effective solution that can be centrally managed and does not overtax personnel resources.
Wireless LAN security experts advocate 24×7 monitoring of the airwaves to secure wireless LANs by identifying rogue WLANs, detecting intruders and impending threats, and enforcing WLAN security policies. “To truly secure wireless LANs, enterprises must monitor their airwaves to detect intruders and threats that can come from unscrupulous hackers and well-meaning employees. Monitoring the airwaves of a wireless LAN is an essential element of security that should also include advanced encryption and authentication.” Gartner
Functionality Requirements of a 24×7 Monitoring Solution
The 24×7 monitoring solution should be able to provide the following functionality:
- Ears and Eyes of the airspace
- Rogue Detection & Mitigation
- Intrusion Detection
- Active Defenses
- Policy Enforcement
- Forensic & Incident Analysis
- Fault Diagnostics & Health Monitoring
AirDefense pioneered the concept of 24×7 monitoring of the airwaves. AirDefense Enterprise is the industry’s first Self-Managing Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and now provides the most advanced solutions for:
- Accurate Intrusion Detection
- Advanced Rogue Management
- Active Defenses and Automated Protection
- Policy Monitoring & Enforcement
- Forensic & Incident Analysis
- Remote Troubleshooting
With a distributed architecture of remote smart sensors that work in tandem with a secure server appliance, AirDefense monitors all wireless LAN activity in real-time for the highest level of security, policy enforcement, and operational support. While AirDefense proactively notifies IT personnel of alarms for security threats, policy violations, and performance issues, the system also allows for network administrators to access a single interface for a complete view of the wireless devices and access to management-critical intelligence. The system also enables IT managers to take action either on-command or via pre-defined policy-based termination to eliminate the threat presented by rogue devices.
The AirDefense Enterprise system provides the most comprehensive and accurate detection of all threats and intrusions. With more than 200 alarms, AirDefense has integrated protection for every known and Day Zero wireless security threat.
Bottom Line: Partner with TPI to secure your wireless environment before it’s too late.