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WiFi and Network Security for SMEs

WiFi and Network Security for SMEs

WiFi has now become a must have for every SME, with all the benefits it brings it also brings new challenges from a security perspective.

Let’s take for example a cafe which has “Free WiFi” advertised on their premises, they have a sign posted with the WiFi SSID(network) and the password to access it in plain view for all customers to see.
So what’s the issue I here you ask?, most of us have connected to a WiFi service like this when on our travels.

Let’s take a look at the potential impact a poorly designed and freely accessible WiFi access point can have for general users and the business that owns it.

1: Joe Public ( Potential issue for the customer )
– You have walked into a cafe and are now sipping your beverage of choice, noticing the sign that says “Free WiFi” with the password advertised underneath you decide to avail of this free perk as the 3G/4G coverage is poor and or you want to save on your data.
The problem with this is that you are effectively giving anyone in the near vicinity the ability to decrypt your network traffic with ease once they have the ability to capture your network traffic, this can easily be done with a laptop or other more discrete device.
Most traffic now a days is secured via SSL but there is plenty of other information available that may be of interest such as DNS lookups ( ie, the sites you are visiting or returned via web searches ).

2: The business owner ( Potential business issue no. 1 )
– As the password for the WiFi is essentially public you have no control who or how many clients now have access to your WiFi, this can lead to poor network performance, denial of service and or throttling of bandwidth or incurring additional costs by your service provider, the only way to resolve this in the short term is to change the password or switch off the service.

3: The business owner ( Potential business issue no. 2 )
– Illegal content being downloaded and or network being used as a proxy gateway for other services such as TOR.

4: The business owner ( Potential business issue no. 3 )
– Potential to perform reconnaissance on physical security presence and or onsite cash presence from infiltration of security camera systems.
In a lot of cases small businesses are running flat networks so physical security PVR systems are easily susceptible to brute force attacks or exploits.

So what can be done to mitigate these risks?
– Employing the services of an ICT specialist such as Chief Electric can give you sound advise on how to harden your local network infrastructure and change your network topology as required, we can recommend additional hardware and software as required to improve the overall performance and security of your network.

If you would like any further information on the products & services that we can provide then please see our Contact page to get in touch.