The use of wireless technologies is widespread in large enterprises today. Internet hotspots are everywhere including homes and office buildings with the only secure computer being the one that is off. The security concerning data transfer using wireless devices has remained of great concern to the administrators especially due to wireless connection’s vulnerability to malicious attacks. Cases of cybercrimes like hacking, SQL scripting, and phishing are on increase in places where wireless connectivity is deployed. Vulnerability of wireless connection was evident from the reports of FBI since it indicated a malware that targeted travelers who used wireless connections in their hotel rooms. It is thus imperative to provide a proper address for ensuring security of internet connections through wireless technology thus avoiding unauthorized access to individual data by hackers. This paper describes various wireless technologies that are in use and examines future trends in the use of wireless technology by large enterprises.
According to Doherty & Anderson (2012), security is becoming a major issue in the provision of services to customers by large enterprises. Internally, the customers are the staff in these enterprises that use their services. One such service is the wireless internet connection that has increasingly been of great concern to the enterprises. Security of wireless connection is on the same scale as the physical security of the offices within an organization. Various wireless technologies exist on the market. Large enterprises use these technologies to secure their data against malicious attacks while providing a crucial service to its customers in terms of Local Area Network (LAN).
A number of malicious attacks are directed to internet connections that are not secured. It is important to note that no single technology can claim to be foolproof against attacks especially in a networked environment. With the lapse of time, the attackers will find a way of circumventing the security measures in a system. This calls for a continued development of security systems in order to beat the attackers. Some of the attacks to wireless connection that will be of concern to the security administrator include phishing, client hijacking, social engineering, man-in-the-middle, authentication and encryption, and management interface exploits.
Use of Wireless Technology in Large Enterprises
Business enterprises use wireless technologies in their products and services to give their clients better service and to enable faster and effective access to their data. Most of them have embraced the use of wireless internet connection in their working environment. Nowadays, it is common to find people using their PDAs devices and mobile phones in places like airports and offices to surf the internet. Other business enterprises normally assign their employees laptops to use during business travels which means that they are able to access company’s LAN remotely. For instance, an employee attending a seminar abroad can access the internet through the LAN of one’s company. These technologies enable instant communication between an employee and his company. Thus, it becomes more practical to give feedback to the company concerning a seminar or conference in a real-time mode.
However, security of wireless networks used in large enterprises is an issue of concern due to increasing cases of attempted hacking into the system through wireless networks. This has been triggered partly by the large number of people who were using certain wireless network at the same time. An example is a case in a busy airport where many passengers are accessing the internet through the wireless network. This increases the vulnerability of the wireless networks to malicious attackers.
Increasing cases of travelers’ PDAs hacking while attempting to access the internet in their hotel rooms were reported by FBI (Stevenson, 2012). The intricacy of this security threat is the ability of the attacker to use unique means like pop-up software updates that seem to be genuine from the software vendor. An attempt of updating the software prompt leads to phishing of personal information that allow the attacker to hacker the system.
Technologies Involved in Wireless Networks
The IEEE sets standards in wireless networks and they become the default yardstick against which developing technology companies measure the standards and types of their technology. This measure has its primarily aim as achieving uniformity and interoperability of technology and products during deployment by the end user. However, the vulnerability of each type of technology used varies among different developers (Kwok & Lau, 2007).
In wireless networks, the norm is to use the IEEE standard of 802 that was adopted in 1997 by a group of developers to control the development of wireless technology. The 802 standard consists of various technologies such as a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN), which is mostly used in close range connections such as Bluetooth and FireWire. This kind of technology uses the 802.15 protocol for personal devices such as mouse, PDAs, or printer. It also allows of sharing of small files using infrared light.
Another technology is the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) that carries the bulk of wireless networks. This technology allows connectivity of the PC or laptop while roaming within the network. WLAN is easily customizable to specify the areas where one can and cannot access the network. These may include certain offices, floors in a building, or even a particular structure in a premise such as the toilet. Similarly, Kwok & Lau (2007) observe that WLAN may be customized using advanced technologies to cover buildings of the same enterprise in decentralized places. The sophistication of this wireless network technology comes with the ability to authenticate the buildings that are going to be accessed on a particular protocol and those that cannot be accessed.
Access Control in Wireless Network
Beaver & Davis (2011) observe that the ability of ensuring a secure connection in a wireless network partly lies in the ability of the administrator to control the access to the network. Access control has the implication of limiting the accessibility of the network depending on the rights. This is important for two reasons: the first reason is avoiding overloading of the network through excess access while the second reason is the ability to receive feedback from the system concerning the activities of the user. This is particularly important because it allows the administrator to detect malicious activities that may be a threat to the security of the information communicated on the system or even the database.
Similarly, access control is important in guaranteeing privacy of the user in characteristics such as passwords and user names. Large enterprises therefore use the wireless gateway or WAP and give accounts passwords to their users to control internet access. Wireless gateways have a number of advantages in a wireless network such as keeping track of the users by demanding login information every time they want to log into the network and trapping of any attempt to log onto unauthorized website by putting up a log screen.
Wireless Network Valid Certificates
Khnaser (2004) notes that most technologies available for wireless connection use end-to-end encryption. As a result, security warnings are a common feature in this environment. If these security warnings are not hidden, they can allow attackers to access the system without authority through the man-in the-middle method of attack. As such, the system or security administrator needs to validate the certificates of the users through the digital certificates that help to identify the server.
Nevertheless, users in this wireless environment need to pay attention to the warnings to avoid communicating with a fake server. Using a clue one can avoid clicking on error messages. This will ensure that fake servers do not pick up personal information that they can send to the real server when the user is not logged in. In such cases, most real servers fail to differentiate between the real user and the fake server thus releasing the information to the wrong access. But this is likely going to change in the future especially with the use of digital certificates that require users to identify themselves after they have logged into the system before finally accessing the content.
Use of Passwords in Wireless Environment
The use of password is one of the main basic yet important security measures in any networked environment. Passwords are critical security tools if well used. Since most of the attackers target common and simple passwords, it is recommendable to use strong passwords with mixed characters and numerals to avoid the risk of allowing eavesdroppers accessing the network through a given account. It is important to keep passwords confidential and change them frequently according to the circumstances existing in the networked environment.
Unfortunately, Joye, Mukhopadhyay & Tunstall (2011) indicate that most users tend to neglect the importance of passwords in a networked environment. Such people use their surnames or their driving license’s number, however it is not recommended in a wireless networked environment..
Future Trends in Wireless Security
The current model of using threat is under constant review in order to identify improvements. In future, vulnerability-led technologies are likely to be complemented with threat-led model including the technology of susceptibility to targeting analysis. A popular view of this approach in future is that it is likely to give emphasis to new elements for vulnerability assessment. These were founded on planning and intelligence-gathering processes that were used by organized internet connection attackers (Lewis & Davis,2011). Similarly, technology companies such as BT are likely to invest heavily in research to analyze protagonist results with the aim of identifying opportunities for direct linkage of detection and reaction processes of particular wireless security technology.
Low-level security threats such as pings and pot scans are easy to detect by the firewalls found in most of the wireless technologies. However, high impact attacks on wireless connection can easily go undetected thus posing a great danger to the enterprises’ databases. These attacks are not isolated; any enterprise, irrespective of its size and activity, is vulnerable to malicious attacks (Chandra, 2008). Future trend in wireless technologies will involve amalgamation of effort to enhance the standards and technologies used in securing wireless connections. More enterprises are also likely to come together in forums and seminars to discuss various options for securing their wireless connections through support to developers of such technology.
Additionally, large enterprises are going to discover that they are the target of malicious attacks because of the benefits that are commensurate with attacking a big enterprise. This will shift the pendulum towards outsourcing of technology services in crucial areas such as wireless communication. It is acceptable that this dynamism will trigger a competition in companies such as BT and IAP that provide technology products and services to large organizations.
Similarly, Rittinghouse & Ransome (2004) observe that in future, premium large enterprises are likely going to place premium on a particular wireless technology due to the benefits that the technology offers. For instance, enterprises will most value a technology in terms of commercial value attached to it, the level and ease of integration, usage of open systems, emerging evidence of threats, and the reputation of the technology to provide security against attacks.
It is evident that wireless technologies provide large enterprises with a convenient means of communication within and without the enterprise premises. The benefits accrued from the use of wireless internet connection are numerous. Nonetheless, these important technology applications come with a number of challenges to the company, some of which are beyond the control of the company that is deploying the technology. Malicious attacks on the wireless network in large enterprises are thus a preference of organized attackers because of the commensurate benefits of attacking those enterprises. The future in wireless security looks however promising especially with the heavy investment in research focusing on developing more secure wireless technologies.