Wired vs wireless network security for businesses

Wired vs wireless network security for businesses

Regardless of what sort of office network you have for your organization, information security should always be a top priority. These days, most workplaces are replacing or augmenting their existing wired networks with wireless ones. But while there’s no denying the benefits of having a wireless network, there are some additional considerations when it comes to security.

In the past, wired networks were largely considered much more secure than wireless ones, simply because they use physical access points. A wireless network, by contrast, is typically visible to anyone within range, which can potentially allow unauthorized access to someone nearby.

What are the major threats to wireless security?

Setting up a wireless network is usually quick and easy, and virtually all routers provide the functionality. However, there’s more to securing a business network than the average home network. Wi-Fi networks that are not protected so thoroughly may give unfettered access to any internet-enabled device.

These unsecured networks are potentially dangerous since hackers can listen in on the communications being sent between the local router and the endpoint (such as a smartphone or laptop). Securing the network behind an access code is the critical first step towards locking it down, and most routers have security enabled by default. Wireless routers come with WPA2 protocols that encrypt and secure wireless networks from unauthorized users.

But WPA2 isn’t completely foolproof either. A couple of years ago, experts uncovered KRACK attacks, which potentially allow hackers to bypass security controls and access data being transmitted across the network. Another potential threat to WPA2-secured networks is brute force hacking, which tries every possible combination of characters until it guesses the right one. Fortunately, these are quite easy to mitigate simply by using a longer and more complicated passkey. With each additional character, it takes exponentially longer to crack.

Social engineering attacks, which present by far the broadest and most pervasive category of cyberattacks, may also be carried out to gain access to a secured wireless network. Phishing emails, for example, might come from criminals purporting to be someone the would-be victim knows, and may request information like network passkeys.

What can you do to protect your network?

With the right security measures in place, a wireless network can be just as secure, if not more so, as a wired network. As with any information security strategy, it requires multiple levels of control and administration. To start with, it’s best to create two networks — one for everyday back office workloads and another specifically for guests.

You should also never use the default password provided with your router. Default passwords can easily be found online simply by knowing the name of the router manufacturer. For best results, consider using long alphanumeric passwords, and reduce the maximum number of times someone can enter the wrong password before getting locked out.

To keep your business safe from the KRACK vulnerability, which affects all modern routers, it’s also important to keep the router firmware up to date. This is the software installed on the device itself, which typically includes a web-based user interface for accessing administrative controls. You can access this by entering the router’s IP address in your web browser.

The strongest wireless network security takes a multilayered approach. For example, if an unauthorized third party does manage to gain access, they’d then have to find a way around encryption and so forth. Aside from physically securing your networking equipment, you should also consider connecting through an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN). This hides your web activity from anyone that’s also connected to the same wireless router.

PC LAN Techs provides secure wireless networks protected by the strongest encryption methods and access controls. We’re essentially Florida businesses’ go-to managed IT services provider when it comes to network security. Call us today to find out more.

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