Steps For Better, Simpler Wireless Network Security - InformationWeek

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Steps For Better, Simpler Wireless Network Security

Intrusion detection and prevention are often overlooked in WLAN security deployments. And security pros sometimes don't realize that unauthorized access points aren't always the work of mischievous hackers.

The J. Craig Venter Institute has security measures in place for its wireless LAN, including a VPN, password requirements, and systems that detect intrusions and entry points, but all of the components were purchased separately. That also means they're managed separately.

Marty Stout, VP of information technology at the genomics research institute, is encouraged that more centrally managed WLAN security systems are coming out, and he plans to evaluate various offerings and incorporate the best one.

Now he has another one to consider. Siemens Communications this week will introduce HiPath Wireless Advanced, a central security controller made up of several integrated components, including a system for intrusion detection and prevention that sniffs out rogue access points and blocks users who try to connect from them. The system starts at $6,000.

Intrusion detection and prevention often is overlooked in WLAN security deployments. And security pros sometimes don't realize that unauthorized access points aren't always the work of mischievous hackers. They can come in the form of small devices that well-meaning people buy at local computer stores. A professional traveling on business could plug an access point into the wall of an office building he's visiting to connect to a WLAN and open up the network to anyone in the vicinity if the right security measures aren't in place.

Three Smart Steps
1 Centralized WLAN security architecture for easier maintenance and monitoring
2 Software that lets access points act as sensors to optimize and troubleshoot the network
3 Intrusion detection or prevention system to sniff out rogue access points and ad hoc networks

Optional features with the Siemens system include reporting and monitoring tools to comply with regulations like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, and location-based asset tracking for devices using the 802.11 WLAN standards.

Aruba Networks, Cisco Systems, and Trapeze Networks also offer intrusion detection and prevention tools bundled with their WLAN security systems.

Still, many companies seem to be asking for trouble. Most still leave their networks wide open to employees and guests, according to Ellen Daley, a Forrester Research analyst, even though that means they're also open to hackers.

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