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Rahul Thadani
Enterprise Wi-Fi Security: One Password isn’t Enough
April 9, 2014

The widespread adoption of Wi-Fi network connectivity by enterprises and IT departments worldwide has now exposed enterprise networks to a new dimension of vulnerability in the form of wireless hackers and casual intruders. Wireless connectivity certainly helps organizations connect their devices more efficiently and it also improves their bottom line over time.

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However, what this also means is that intruders and hackers now have yet another channel through which to infiltrate corporate networks; especially if the necessary and proper precautions are not undertaken.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing a very specific issue with regards to network security and wireless connectivity in particular. This issue is about the adoption of personal mode Wi-Fi networks vis-à-vis the enterprise mode Wi-Fi networks.

Personal (Pre-Shared Key) Mode Vs Enterprise (EAP/RADIUS) Mode

When it comes to setting up a wireless connection within an enterprise, many organizations simply take the easy way out. Deploying the personal mode for Wi-Fi networks is very simple and cost-effective so many enterprises do go down this road. However, this is a mistake because even though the enterprise mode is more complex to setup and costlier to maintain, it is far more secure and should always be preferred.

The fundamental difference between these two modes is with regards to the password that is needed to connect to the network. In personal mode, the PSK (pre-shared key) is the same for anyone who connects to the network. So if a device falls into the wrong hands, the network can be accessed and infiltrated. Also, if an employee leaves the organization, he would still possess the network’s password with him.

On the other hand, enterprise mode (also known as the 802.1X standard) assigns users with a unique username and password to connect to the Wi-Fi network. If someone loses a device or leaves the organization, the password or the username can be reset respectively.

Reasons Why Enterprises Should Always Use 802.1X

  1. 802.1X eliminates all the security risks that accompany shared passwords.
  2. 802.1X eliminates the possibility of Wi-Fi snooping prevents the loss of confidential data.
  3. 802.1X also provides added security in the form of a security certificate for the client before connecting to the network. It also requires a private key present on a smart card, if needed.
  4. The enterprise mode encryption method can also be designed to include the wired side of the network.
  5. Other customizations such as granting access and login times to certain users can be flexibly added and removed with the help of 802.1X.

Business organizations that wish to make use of the enterprise mode for their Wi-Fi connectivity need to invest in RADIUS servers, and other hardware and software equipment. These are expensive and require technical resources to install, so the implementation is easier said than done.

However, this mode of Wi-Fi connectivity is far more secure so it should be preferred. Moreover, there are cheaper and easier to implement options available so the cost and complexity should not deter you from implementing enterprise mode Wi-Fi connectivity for your enterprise network.

Additionally, a security solution suite like Quick Heal Endpoint Security 5.3 can also work towards safeguarding the various endpoints, or devices, that connect to your wireless network. To manage your complex next-gen networks from a single web console, this is one of the best solutions that can serve your enterprise needs.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Rahul Thadani
About Rahul Thadani
Rahul is a web enthusiast and blogger, and has been writing about the computer security industry for the last three years. Following the latest technology trends,...
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36 Comments

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