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NETWORKING HARDWARE

Wireless Security Myths and Five Ways to Stop Unsafe Wi-Fi Use
By: Joe Eitel
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    2010-08-31

    Table of Contents:
  • Wireless Security Myths and Five Ways to Stop Unsafe Wi-Fi Use
  • Five Ways to Stop Unsafe Wireless Usage

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    Wireless Security Myths and Five Ways to Stop Unsafe Wi-Fi Use


    (Page 1 of 2 )

    In 2006, Network Chemistry published a wireless threat index, revealing some troubling statistics. It was the company’s intention to help other companies and organizations protect their networks from the increasing number of security attacks that are still relevant and prevalent today. This article will not only reveal those myths, but show you how you can stop unsafe wi-fi use at your own company.

    Network Chemistry wanted to dispel some of the myths associated with wireless networks and Wi-Fi in particular, which we’ll discuss in further detail momentarily. A majority of the findings went against commonly-held beliefs among Wi-Fi users. Among other troubling statistics, it was found that:

    • Wi-Fi users connect to wireless and wired networks simultaneously, with 37 percent of the endpoints analyzed being network bridging enabled.
    • Wi-Fi users with VPNs do not always use them to protect traffic, with 68 percent experiencing violations of VPN policy.
    • Ad hoc networks are actually used very frequently, with 63 percent of Wi-Fi users being ad hoc-enabled, or had previously tried to connect to an ad hoc peer.
    • A majority of wireless connections are actually made to unknown networks, with 87 percent of the endpoints studied connecting to an unknown AP.

    Thankfully, there are ways to stay safe when networking wirelessly, but first let’s discuss some of the myths associated with Wi-Fi.

    Myths and Risks

    Brian de Haaff was Network Chemistry's vice president of product management and marketing at the time the wireless threat index statistics were released. Since then, he’s moved on to become senior product director of IT services at Citrix Online and Network Chemistry has been sold to Aruba Networks, though the top five myths outlined by de Haff in 2006 are still myths that plague online security today. They include:

    • Users at organizations with policies against wireless don't use wireless.
    • Wireless connections are rarely made to unknown networks.
    • Users do not connect to both wireless and wired networks at the same time.
    • Ad hoc networks are seldom used.
    • Users actually use VPNs.

    As you can see, these commonly held Wi-Fi beliefs are in direct opposition to the actual findings of the 2006 study, as outlined previously. As a result of what can only be described as ignorance, Wi-Fi users put themselves at risk by

    • Connecting to unknown access points.
    • Violating company VPN policies.
    • Turning on or trying to connect to an ad hoc connection.
    • Connecting to an unknown Ethernet connection.
    • Having no virus protection.
    • Enabling network bridging.
    • Having no firewall protection.

    Obviously a few of these, such as having no virus or firewall protection, are just examples of being careless, but a few of the other at-risk behaviors may be harder for both small and large companies to rid their staff of. Not to worry though; Lisa Phifer’s got you covered.

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