For many small businesses, wireless connectivity is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, wireless brings with it unprecedented convenience. The cost and simplicity of buying a wireless router has made it easy for someone to set up a wireless LAN, enabling them to work from almost anywhere in the home or office that they can get a signal.
On the other hand, the technology introduces new and potentially disastrous security threats—a host of issues that do not exist with previous wired networks. Many of your customers will simply not be aware of the inherent risks of wireless networking and are failing to safeguard critical data such as customer records and accounting information.
However, with well-informed research, and endpoint protection, you can help your customers to implement wireless network access in a safe and secure manner which lowers threat exposure.* Changing attitudes
Your customers do not have to fear wireless technology, but they do need to embrace it as inherently insecure and plan accordingly. The first step for businesses is to consider their risk. Customers should be educated on their level of exposure and what their liability would be if an unauthorised person were to connect to their WLAN and then their network. Solutions can then be provided in response to their exposure and the possible breach of network integrity.
This means securing the wireless network just as you would secure traffic from a distrusted external network such as the Internet. Good ideas here revolve around segmenting wireless traffic and deploying a strong perimeter firewall between the wireless LAN and the wired network to prevent threats from ever getting close. By taking a segmented approach, consistent security policies can also be applied across both the WLAN and the perimeter.
* Stay current
However, security is always evolving, and it’s not enough to invest in a technology and forget about it. For effective protection against new and evolving threats, a network’s security solution must remain current. A subscription service can provide ongoing software and virus definitions to ensure your customers are always protected.
It is also critical for businesses to make sure that they stay abreast of all the latest in wireless security technology. Why? For starters, wireless standards are constantly changing, which means staying ahead can be almost impossible. What’s more, small and medium businesses don’t have the resources to assign someone to monitor wireless developments and the deluge of information can be overwhelming. The only way to stay current is to talk to their technology partners - you.
* Consider your endpoint
The last piece of the wireless security puzzle is securing the endpoints. The wireless LAN is, at best, a semi-trusted network and for businesses where employees connect wirelessly, their endpoints are exposed just as if they were on a remote broadband connection.
Mobile users must be treated as remote workers and have top-of-the-line protections installed on their laptop computers. Endpoints need an integrated software security suite, which will act as a frontline defence against viruses, worms, spyware, and other forms of malware.
Having protected individual mobile devices, this also allows your customer to develop security procedures which will further protect your network. For example, trusted users in compliance with their security policy can be placed on one virtual LAN that can access the internal network while those without the proper security posture should be placed on another that can only access the Internet.
Critics may view these types of precautions as paranoia—a waste of money after implementing network defences and the ongoing cost of keeping up with the latest technology. As the saying goes, however, better safe than sorry. With endpoint security, you can provide your customers with peace of mind knowing that you have a backup plan even if network-based defences fail. Without it, an entire portion of their business is at risk. Consider endpoint security an insurance policy. Endpoint security is an investment in the sanctity of your network as a whole.
* The Check Point solution
Check Point Software Technologies can provide you with the tools to help your customers to master all of the critical components of security in a wireless environment. The Safe@Office 500W appliance combines advanced performance and comprehensive security in a single plug-and-play wireless solution.
For the strongest safeguards available, the Safe@Office appliance allows a wireless network to be segmented into multiple virtual access points, each of which can have different security policy and encryption settings. The appliance authenticates remote user identities, ensuring that only authorised individuals have network access.
Your customers can upgrade software automatically, with no user interaction required, by subscribing to a managed service provider. This ensures their software and virus definitions stay current and also provides you with an ongoing revenue stream and higher levels of partner engagement.
Wireless Safe@Office allows your customers to enjoy the advantages of wire-free networking without having to worry about the safety of their networks.