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How to Protect Your Corporate Network from New Wi-Fi Risks

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|Jul 3|magazine7 min read

by Rajiv Shah, telecoms sector director at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence 

There have been a number of announcements around free Wi-Fi recently, indicating a trend towards public Wi-Fi networks to be rolled out across Australia. While this may be good news for consumers from a cost perspective, this also brings security risks. As businesses increasingly let employees use their own devices to connect to corporate networks, security risks to the enterprise increase dramatically. Organisations that fail to protect themselves against these risks are putting company data at the mercy of cyber criminals.

Rajiv Shah, Telecoms Sector Director at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence said, “When users access unencrypted networks, attackers can easily hijack the session and not only gather all sorts of sensitive information – including passwords – but also potentially inject malicious code to compromise the device. This makes everything on the device vulnerable, including any corporate data. If an employee then connects a compromised device to the corporate network this can be a backdoor route to let a determined criminal mount an even wider-ranging attack. Companies need to consider appropriate security measures.”

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence suggests three steps for businesses to protect their corporate networks.

Implement and Enforce a Strong Security Policy

Organisations should conduct a prioritised assessment of the risk that any mobile device, whether company owned or “BYOD,” represents and develop a clear policy explaining how employees should use devices and set out the security measures to protect information. Properly thought-through security will provide benefits to employees without unnecessarily impacting on the use of their personal devices.

Educate Employees

Businesses must educate employees about the risks of using their own devices and prioritising convenience over security. An obvious step would be education about the risks of using open, unencrypted Wi-Fi connections. This is one part of getting employees to care about security and understanding that they have an important role to play in keeping the organisation’s cyber security risk to a minimum.

Implement Appropriate Security Controls

Traditional mobile device management solutions will go some way to protecting companies, but there is much more that businesses can do. Businesses should install a multi-layered security model that includes device configuration and management, appropriate secure connection methods, on-network content filtering solutions, and ongoing monitoring of corporate networks.

For example, an appropriately encrypted VPN service could be used on untrusted networks. This can be combined with a global, cloud-based security solution that can scan the content, source and destination address by using a specialised detection methods which block security threats and unacceptable content.