With more and more critical business operations occurring online, device security is gaining an extra level of security. Wireless devices now come in a startling array of forms, ranging from recognizable laptops and phones to everyday items where it’s easy to overlook their connection to the internet.

The average modern business is a treasure trove of sensitive and valuable data – and hackers have noticed. Almost half of small businesses in 2018 experienced a cyber-attack. Of those, 44 percent experienced between two and four attacks, making small businesses the most common target for hackers last year.

Cyber-attacks occur through a myriad of creative ways, many of which take advantage of forgotten wireless devices or those which have been configured incorrectly. Read on to gain insights about how bad actors manipulate devices to acquire access to sensitive materials, and what to do about it.

Features of Secure Wireless Devices

There’s no such thing as “The Ultimate Secure Device” which a company can simply set up and forget about. Most security relies on a combination of correct configuration and the software to make it happen. However, all secure devices have a few traits in common. These include:

1. Encryption.

The FTC recommends that businesses encrypt access points such as wireless routers. In addition, strongly consider the use of VPNs, or virtual private networks, to hide or encrypt network traffic. Both measures help prevent eavesdroppers from watching network traffic for unsecured data being transmitted.

2. Strong passwords.

As a rule, if a password appears on any widely disseminated list of common passwords, it’s a bad one. Strong passwords are difficult to guess and result in more failed access attempts which are noticeable on a network.

3. Segmented networks.

Secure networks are segmented so that users can’t access the entire network. Often, businesses use multiple routers to maintain completely separated networks for public users and internal purposes. Traffic is spread out, making both networks faster, and the public can’t peer into the network traffic of the business.

4. Wireless intrusion detection/prevention.

Secure wireless devices have a means for detecting and protecting wireless intrusion. These measures automatically disconnect unauthorized devices and identify misconfigured or rogue access points which might be used to access the network.

5. WPA2 or WPA3.

WiFi Protected Access, or WPA, is a security protocol and certification program to secure wireless networks. WPA2 is the most widely used protocol, but WPA3 was released in 2018. However, in April 2019, WPA3 came under scrutiny for a potentially serious design flaw compromising its security. It’s too early to confirm this, and IT security professionals should follow its developments.

What Devices Present the Biggest Risk?

There are two device types which are common in most offices but nonetheless present the biggest risk. Securing these goes a long way to keeping valuable company and customer data safe. These two items are:

1. Printers.

WiFi-connected printers constitute the most overlooked wireless device in the office space. Consequently, they’re one of the biggest targets for hackers. All manner of sensitive data passes through the modern printer, and this is compounded when it’s a multifunction printer which also handles scanning, faxing, and photocopying.

2. Personal devices.

Bring your own device policies are becoming increasingly common. However, they also open up a world of security headaches for IT professionals. Personal devices can’t easily be tracked or monitored for intrusion, may have malware, and may cause sensitive data to be spread beyond company walls. While it might be tempting to ban them as a result, these devices also bring an incredible amount of flexibility and functionality for employees to do their jobs.

Managed IT Can Help Harden Weak Spots

Companies can harden their device security by taking steps to ensure that all devices are governed under a clear policy. This requires an audit of the wireless devices currently being used in a workplace, including WiFi-connected smart devices. Managed IT or network services can assist with this, as such specialists will be more aware of the many devices which companies frequently overlook. Additionally, managed network services can:

  • Assist with developing a clear BYOD policy for staff which supports security.
  • Help educate staff on safe practices regarding data and cybersecurity.
  • Update security protocols and properly configure wireless devices.
  • Monitor networks in real-time for intrusion and unauthorized use.
  • Upgrade devices and hardware to align with current best practices.

Keep Security Current with Smile Business Products

Even startups and small businesses require robust security right from the gate to thwart the creativity and tenacity of today’s hackers. Likewise, the profusion of wireless devices means that it’s easy to overlook a device – which in turn creates an opening for malicious behavior. However, with managed network services, an IT expert who has seen all the tricks can help get a company’s device security in order.

Reach out to security professionals at Smile today to get started analyzing your wireless devices for weak spots.