News giant starts scanning to stop users' rogue wireless installations

News International, publisher of The Sun and The Times, has begun systematic monitoring of its corporate networks for rogue...

News International, publisher of The Sun and The Times, has begun systematic monitoring of its corporate networks for rogue wireless systems.

CentreCore, the commercial wing of News International's IT department, investigated potential vulnerabilities in the newspaper group's network because of wireless devices connected to them.

Tor Gisvold, commercial director at CentreCore, said there was a huge risk to corporate networks unless they regularly scan for illicitly connected wireless devices.

Dramatic reductions in the cost of wireless technologies, such as Apple's Airport product, combined with their ease of use, enables employees to create unauthorised wireless networks that hackers could easily use to penetrate networks and bypass protective firewalls.

"We hardly use any wireless applications," said Gisvold. "And we wanted to protect against wireless networks being established on our network without our knowledge. It is so easy to set up an Apple wireless port and plug it into the network."

CentreCore used wireless security firm Red-M to investigate the number of wireless networks in News International's offices. "We found a number of potential risks to our own network and they were quickly dealt with. Now we can quickly pick up these things and deal with them," Gisvold said.

He said the rogue wireless devices had not been connected to company networks with any malicious intent or in the knowledge that they created vulnerabilities.

News International now uses Red-M's Red-Alert product to probe its Cisco network around the clock and feed alerts about Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices to an intrusion detection server. CentreCore has also installed Red-Detect's Countermeasures mod-ule, which disrupts and quarantines rogue devices attempting to infiltrate the network.

The cost of Red-M's technology was modest compared to the risks, Gisvold said. "We consider ourselves a target for lots of people."

At some point News International, based at Wapping, will start using wireless applications and Red-M technology will help distinguish between company-run networks and any rogue networks. "Wireless networks are extremely useful, especially for anybody travelling," Gisvold said.

"Security is becoming something everybody has to think about. These new devices are so easy to use; unless you have 24x7 coverage you do not know if anybody is plugged into your network. The risk is phenomenal."

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