Wi-Fi access has become a way of life. From mobile devices and laptops to video game systems and household appliances, almost anything you can think of needs a wireless connection.
We've also seen huge growth in the number of people using smartphones, jumping 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2018. As your customers and employees are roaming around on their smartphones and other wireless-enabled devices, you'll need to provide them robust Wi-Fi access. But what about security risks associated with Wi-Fi?
What are the threats that you need to worry about attacking your business?
While the list of potential Wi-Fi threats could go on forever, there are 6 known Wi-Fi threat categories that you need to protect your business against. We'll cover each of these categories, what they look like, how they work and a real-life example that could be taking place in your business right now.
1. Evil Twin Access Point
An evil twin AP will mimic a legitimate AP, spoofing its SSID and unique MAC address. Attackers can then Intercept traffic and Insert themselves into the data conversation between the victim and the servers that the victim accesses while connected to the evil twin access point.
Once the victim is connected, the attacker can steal credentials, inject malicious code into the victim browsers, redirect the victim to a malware site, and so much more.
On your lunch break you decide it's time to update your wardrobe - nothing wrong with that! But a hacker is using an evil twin access point and you've now unsuspectedly connected to their copy of your Wi-Fi SSID. Once you go to check out and enter in your credit card information to order that new dress, the hacker has your information and is ready to go sell it on the dark web.
2. Misconfigured Access Point
In busy networks where new APs are being deployed, it can be too easy for network administrators to accidentally make a configuration mistake such as making a private SSID open with no encryption, potentially exposing sensitive information to interception over the air.
This can happen any time an access point isn't set up properly (like leaving default settings unchanged for example).
An AP gets shipped from corporate to your new office and Charles, the receptionist, volunteers to set it up! He follows the instructions and installs the AP that's now broadcasting an open SSID, which is leaking private data like a sieve. You can't blame him, because he's not an IT pro, but you're still left with a misconfigured AP that could be a serious risk to your organization.
3. Rogue Access Point
A Rogue AP is a wireless AP that has been installed on a secure network without explicit authorization from an administrator.
Rogue APs are connected to the authorized network, usually with an open SSID, allowing the attackers to bypass your perimeter security. This could be with a physical AP, or one created in software on a computer and bridged to an authorized network.
You own a retail store that has customers coming in and out all day. When it's busy, it's impossible to keep an eye on everyone there every second of the day. It's easy for someone to jump into the wire closet and plug in the cheapest AP they could get and they're now able to gain access to the company's private secure network and can hijack POS systems to reveal credit card numbers and more.
4. Rogue Client
Any client previously connected to a rogue AP or other malicious AP within the range of a private network is considered a rogue client.
A client typically becomes categorized as rogue if it has connected to any rogue AP, evil twin, or other malicious AP while within range of a private WLAN network. This client could have been victimized by a plethora of man-in-the-middle attacks that include loading malware, or backdoors onto a client.
You stop by the same cafe on the way to work every day. Since you've connected to their Wi-Fi network before, your phone automatically connects as soon as you set foot in the door. Unfortunately, that day, someone had set up an evil twin AP, tricked your phone, and infected your phone while you're in range of your private wireless local area network with ransomware for you to take back to the office. As soon as you're back at your desk, your phone connects to your corporate Wi-Fi and the ransomware is off and running.
5. Neighbor Access Point
When an authorized client connects to a guest or external, neighboring AP, bypassing the company's perimeter security and getting around security restrictions set by a firewall.
There's no super secret hacker trick to this one. Any of your employees could be (and probable are) doing this right now. By choosing to connect their devices to the guest network or the coffee shop network downstairs, your employees are easily bypassing the security you've built into your network.
Janice in marketing cannot get through the morning without listening to her favorite new soundtrack. Her phone is almost dead, so she wants to use her company-issued computer to connect to a streaming site. Her company's firewall restricts access to streaming music, but that's no worry for Janice - she'll just connect to the downstairs coffee shop's unsecure Wi-Fi and start listening away. Unfortunately for you, a hacker is sipping his coffee, just waiting for her to connect and get to work on accessing your network.
6. Ad-Hoc Network
A peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection between clients that lets two or more devices communicate with each other directly, circumventing your network security policies and making the traffic completely invisible.
With a few simple clicks in your settings, any one of your employees could quickly set up an ad-hoc network between their colleague's devices. This can create security and legal implications that could impact your business.
As a meeting is getting ready to start, Carl's boss is STILL waiting for that file he promised would be there this morning. It would take him too long to use the corporate-approved secure network file sharing, so he decides to set up an ad-hoc network to send it directly from laptop to laptop. Unfortunately for you, this opens the door to potential legal and security repercussions for your business.
Defending Against Wi-Fi Threats with a Trusted Wireless Environment
In a world with growing open Wi-Fi networks, Wi-Fi hackers are able to not only steal information but spread malware to computers on the network that could cost your network billions. You need a framework that empowers you to provide high-performing, yet secure Wi-Fi access to your customers and employees.
A high-performing wireless network not only keeps employees connected to secure networks, but it also keeps them operating at peak efficiency. Any moment of downtime while waiting for something to load is an opportunity that they will get distracted and start scrolling through their phone.
And depending on your business, providing high-performing Wi-Fi could be the difference between a great customer experience and a bad yelp review.
Having a great Wi-Fi solution that is difficult to manage doesn't help you better secure or operate the wireless connectivity for your business. You need a solution that is easy to set up and manage, giving you control over your entire wireless network, no matter the size.
As your business grows, your Wi-Fi deployment should easily grow with you. Centralizing your Wi-Fi management enables you to take your business from one wireless access point to an unlimited number across multiple locations with no controller infrastructure.
In this Wi-Fi connected world, you also need visibility into crucial information such as signal strength coverage, wireless client bandwidth consumption, access point utilization, application visibility and client distribution to give you the full picture of what's happening in your business.
As a full suite IT and Cybersecurity firm, Restech can help with all of your Wi-Fi needs. Contact us today for a free Wi-Fi consultation.