An unsecured WiFi network is kind of like leaving the front door of a bank vault unprotected and unmonitored. Without the right encryption and password protection, anyone can walk right in and steal or damage your small business's most precious assets: your data (including intellectual property), customer information, and financial records. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens quite often. A recent report found that average estimated global losses from cybercrime were close to $1 trillion in 2020, up from around $500 billion in 2018. But once you know the risks, it's easier to mitigate them. And with the right tools and services, you can help protect your small business's valuable assets. Below are four of the most common threats to WiFi networks, according to the United States Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and how to avoid them.
1. Piggybacking and wardriving
You've seen this happen in the real world. You're opening the front door of a store and someone rushes up behind you walking right through the same door at the same time. This happens online as well. If your wireless network isn't secure, someone with a wireless device can simply search for open wireless connections and jump right in. Piggybacking is a crime of proximity. Someone is in the same location as your network and uses your connection. (You've probably done this yourself at a doctor's office, café, or airport.) Wardriving is a concerted effort where people drive around looking for open connections to penetrate. Neither may seem like a big deal, but, as CISA points out, these uninvited users "may be able to conduct illegal activity, monitor and capture your web traffic, or steal personal files." The fix: A management system that locks down access and only allows verified users and guests access to your network.
2. Wireless sniffing
Sometimes, criminals are more interested in the data going in and out of your small business than they are about getting in themselves. After all, if they can intercept unsecured traffic once it leaves your network, there's less of a chance they'll be found out. Add in the fact that sniffing tools are commonplace and easy to use and you'll understand why it's important to ensure that all traffic leaving your business's WiFi network is strongly encrypted.
3. Unauthorized device access
Although people are headed back into the workplace, there are plenty of employees still working remotely. This means their unsecured networks may act like an open door into your business's servers and data. Their devices are too, especially if they're lying around on a kitchen table, park bench, or espresso bar. There are a few steps you'll need to take to shut down any risks. First, make sure your employees are using devices that have been password-protected with strong, frequently changed passwords. Second, make sure employees can only share files or folders on corporate-controlled networks or when there is an actual need to do so. File sharing should never be left openly available and unprotected.
4. Vulnerability exploits
Just like a dog might look for a broken slat in a fence to escape, cyber-criminals are constantly looking for ways into a network. Often, that comes in the form of a known vulnerability or unpatched piece of software or server. So small businesses need to constantly perform regular vulnerability scanning, use two-factor authentication, and enable network-level authentication, according to CISA. This laundry list of cyber-security work may seem daunting and time-consuming—and it can be. But having a cloud-based WiFi platform that constantly self-updates so that patches and vulnerabilities are proactively taken care of makes things easier. And it's even better if that platform also has AI-based, enterprise-grade security to block advanced threats and quarantine troublesome devices with separate zones for your back office, employees, and guests. Shield, the AI security included in WorkPass, can do just that. It actively updates your network security and lets you control who is allowed on your network—and when. Find out more about how Shield can protect your small business.
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