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Companies fight rogue WLans

Enterprises continue to battle the installation of unauthorised, wireless Lan access points (AP) on corporate networks by employees who are unaware of the security risks.

Tom Dillon, manager for mobile and wireless at Hilton Hotels, said the management of a Hilton hotel he recently visited assured him that the property's network had in operation only six authorised WLan APs. Dillon said he set up sniffer software and detected 15 APs at the hotel. 

He said this illustrated the continued proliferation of rogue APs, which IT managers need to battle with strict policies.

Dillion also called on companies to institute strong authentication policies to ensure that only authorised users can gain access to wireless networks carrying sensitive business information.

Enterprises need to govern the use of WLan client devices, which can be used in an insecure mode on home or public-access WLan systems.

Hilton now requires that WLan clients, such as cards in laptop computers, be disabled when the laptop is connected to the wired enterprise Lan to prevent injection of Trojan horses picked up when the laptop was hooked up to a home network. 

Joe Przeporia, an IT manager at Cargill, said his company's many business units, including manufacturing plants, use such a variety of WLan and fixed wireless technologies "that we are not [yet] equipped with it at a corporate level".

Przeporia added that Cargill has started to develop high-level corporate policies to deal with WLan security, including rogue access points. 

Overall, WLan use and security policies will remain a paramount concern for business as high-speed, over-the-air network systems continue to gain market share.

Gartner estimated that sales of WLan chip sets (used in both APs and client devices) totalled 18 million units in 2002, and it predicted that sales will hit 50 million units by 2006. 

 


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