Wi-Fi offers convenience and mobility for businesses, but there are unique security challenges with wireless networks that you need to face responsibly.
Wi-Fi features special vulnerabilities, and many small- and medium-sized businesses have a very lax attitude towards Wi-Fi security. Unfortunately, this attitude has hurt many businesses in the past.
Here are three key reasons why you need effective business Wi-Fi security and monitoring that goes above and beyond:
1. Wardriving – Driving Around to Hack Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi networks leave your business vulnerable to wardriving. Since Wi-Fi involves transmitting data over the air, that means anyone within physical proximity of your Wi-Fi network can try to gain access to it. Wardriving is a strategy hackers use of literally driving around looking for unsecured networks with a laptop with wireless capabilities and a GPS device.
Usually, they’re looking for small businesses with lax security standards. Once they gain access, they can steal data, hijack your network and even use financial information for identity theft.
Some war drivers use complex strategies to capture financial data. In one case, war drivers used a specially designed Mercedes containing specialized antennas and tools for cracking networks. The hackers targeted businesses featuring wireless networks with outdated encryption protection and stole payroll data and credit cards to purchase computer equipment and luxury goods. The gang was eventually captured, but not before costing businesses big time.
To underline just how many networks are insecure, a project from Sophos known as “warbiking” had security researchers ride around major cities. The researchers scanned thousands of Wi-Fi networks for security vulnerabilities.
Their findings are striking. For example, out of 81,743 networks scanned in London, 29.5 percent didn’t feature any encryption at all or were using the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) algorithm, which has been proven to be broken. On top that, another 52 percent were using Wi-Fi protected Access (WPA), which is no longer recommended by security researchers.
If the researchers had been malicious hackers, it wouldn’t have taken much for them to break into those networks and steal important information. It underlines why companies need to work with a security partner who offers the right kind of small business IT support.
2. Your Business Wi-Fi Routers Are Filled With Security Flaws and Vulnerabilities
Attackers on the web love to target wireless routers. If they can gain control of your wireless router, they can perform a variety of actions, including monitoring network traffic, redirecting traffic, blocking users and using it as a staging point to gain deeper access into your network.
For companies that fail to encrypt their wireless traffic, gaining access to a router means a hacker is basically seeing all the data that passes through your wireless network, including unencrypted passwords and credit card information.
Research has shown that a wide range of wireless routers have security vulnerabilities. One report from Tripwire found that 80 percent of Amazon’s top 25 best-selling small-office wireless routers have known security vulnerabilities. In fact, a large percentage of these also have well-documented vulnerabilities that make it extremely easy for attackers to gain access to your network.
In other words, you don’t need a team of pro hackers to target you. Just about anyone with some basic knowledge or a standard hacking tool can potentially penetrate your network.
In fact, fundamental flaws exist in these products that many companies fail to fix. Here are just two key examples:
- Most wireless routers are shipped with easy-to-crack default administrative passwords that IT departments fail to reset, which has left tens of thousands of wireless networks at risk..
- Many administrators fail to enable secure sockets layer (SSL), also known as HTTPS, for all websites, which could add an extra layer of encryption for your network. By using HTTPS instead of the standard HTTP, you help ensure hackers can’t snoop on your emails and banking information.
In short, there is a long list of Wi-Fi vulnerabilities, and failing to secure your network for them can put all your data at risk.
3. Wireless IoT (Internet of Things) Threat
As you’ve already learned, wireless networks require special security precautions. However, there is another reason you need extra security and monitoring for your wireless networks, and it has to do with the Internet of Things (IoT).
There’s a good chance your small- or medium-sized business is already using IoT. At the most basic level, smartphones are considered IoT devices. However, IoT wireless devices are increasingly built into just about every business. Instead of just stealing data, wireless networks give rise to whole new threat capabilities to hackers.
They can sabotage IoT devices used in factories, hijack HVAC cooling systems in businesses and even hack your company’s employee refrigerator. Even hospitals are under threat, as security researchers have found they could hack into wireless devices that deliver morphine in lethal doses or deliver shocks from defibrillators with Bluetooth features.
Wireless capabilities are now built into security cameras, which makes it much easier for hackers to break into your security system and even view you or your employees in real time.
Considering 70 percent of IoT devices fail to use encryption when they transmit data, you get an idea of how grave the threat is. This explosion in devices interacting with each other through wireless networks means every business needs to safeguard their networks now with an effective wireless security strategy.
Dobson Technologies is dedicated to monitoring the latest wireless network threats and providing excellent managed IT support in Oklahoma City to help secure your Wi-Fi network. Schedule a meeting with Dobson today to discuss your technology needs.