So, browsing around the other day, I came across this article on about.com, with users reporting various ways they'd been "hacked." Without taking time to respond to any of the individual claims, it seems a lot of people don't understand good network security, or what aspects of their network are susceptible if hacker gets past their router.
This seems like a good time for an article talking about common mistakes people make when starting their Wi-Fi installation, especially smaller businesses that may not be familiar with newer technologies.
Six Mistakes No Business Should Make When Migrating To WiFi
1. Security Holes
In terms of directly keeping hackers out of your system, your access points and the security system behind them are your first line of defense. Unfortunately, when users cobble together wireless networks from multiple hardware vendors, the result is uneven security because every router and access point has its own security settings.
The standard for WiFi security today is a virtualized, distributed system. By getting all your wireless hardware from the same manufacturer, they can be linked together with a common operating system, ensuring absolutely standard security coverage across your entire network.
2. Human Error
A network is only as secure as its users, and the best security policies in the world are useless if employees are leaving their passwords written down or otherwise not keeping their credentials secure. And, unfortunately, "social engineering" attacks are among the most common and the most successful.
When moving to WiFi, take some time to train / refresh your employees on proper security, so that your new investment isn't undercut by human error
3. Poor Upgrade Paths
Another common mistake is failing to plan for future upgrades. Wireless networking vendors make it simple to upgrade within their system, by using unified software that ensures every device is used to its maximum capacity. In many cases, that software can still work with legacy hardware, even from other vendors.
So, in most cases, it shouldn't be necessary to rip out your entire existing network. This is one area where experienced network experts can advise you on upgrade paths that will require a minimum of hardware replacement as time goes on.
4 - Forgetting A Predictive Heatmap
Pre-planning is a necessity when moving to WiFi, because of the need for uniform coverage across your location(s). This is something that's nearly impossible to do well through guesswork - it takes experienced wireless network specialists to be able to produce the heatmap necessary to predict WiFi needs and the proper placement of access points.
Failure to do this pre-planning will usually result in either A)uneven coverage with dead zones within your building(s), or B)over-investment in access points, adding needless expense.
5 - Accessibility Issues
One of the more time-consuming, but necessary, aspects of managing a network is ensuring proper access to websites while making sure the bandwidth is properly optimized for your business needs.
This is another area where standardized networking software is a huge boon. Modern vWLAN systems, like ones based on the ADTRAN BlueSocket standard, have 'smart' software that auto-balances the load, taking a lot of the burden off your sysadmins.
6 - Bypassing Expert Advice
While it's tempting for a business to try to 'DIY' their wireless network upgrades, those upgrades are far more likely to be successful and cost-effective in the long run with expert advice behind them. Just a free consultation can often be enough to clear up a lot of confusion ahead of time.
Or, for businesses lacking on-site expertise, consider using a full-featured hosted WiFi service. By using Cloud-based vWLAN services, you can move nearly all of your IT management offsite, while getting service equivalent to keeping an entire staff of networking experts on-site!
So, how about you? Got any good horror stories you heard about WiFi security mistakes?