Controlling the Uncontrollable


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Security managers must feel like they're living in the Wild West. Weak encryption standards and uncontrolled Wi-Fi devices turn enterprises into lawless frontiers. But that's finally changing, as new security protocols arm managers with the weapons to restore law and order.

"Good hardware, excellent vendor support and proper policy--as long as you stick with it--will help minimize security risks," says Arek Alszko, IT manager for The Mad Science Group, a Canadian-based children's educational science entertainment franchise.

Alszko waited until he felt WLAN security protocols and products were ready for prime time; the dynamic key encryption and mutual authentication provided by Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) convinced him that wireless security was finally strong enough to meet his company's requirements.

Stronger security comes none too soon, as business imperatives for wireless deployment slams head-on into security issues, such as flawed encryption, unauthorized access and signal interruption.

"Wireless security products are finally catching up to the issues that prevented their use in security-sensitive businesses," says Rick Beaupre, director of technology at Massachusetts-based Mortgage Financial, "but there is more to wireless security than a piece of software or an appliance." To secure their WLANs, managers are using a layered approach, including strong encryption for authentication, tighter access control and IDS/IPS tools. Tough policy enforcement

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and configuration management round out a comprehensive WLAN security strategy.

This was first published in December 2005

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