Wireless Network Security - the Achilles Heel of all IT Infrastructures

Bangalore: Wireless network security is ranked the most vulnerable and exposed in any IT infrastructure – states a survey conducted by Fortinet, a global leader in high-performance cyber security solutions. Named ‘The Security of Wireless Networks in an IT Infrastructure’, the survey witnessed participation of 1,490 Information Technology Decision Makers (ITDMs) from 250+ organizations across the world including 100 participants from India.  All the participants were sourced from independent market search company Lightspeed GMI’s online panel.
 
According to the ITDMs, 49% of the respondents worldwide and 40% of the Indian respondents ranked wireless networks to be the most vulnerable security risk. The survey also revealed that inefficient wireless network security is a main concern for almost all (92% worldwide and 100% in India) the participants in the survey. However, more than one-third of the companies which offered wireless networks to the employees did not have the basic security function of authentication in place.

The survey highlighted the fact that nearly half of ITDMs (48% worldwide versus 55% in India) considered loss of sensitive corporate or customer data as the biggest risk of operating on an unsecure wireless network. 72% of the respondents (83% in India) opted cloud approach to manage their wireless infrastructure and 88% of ITDMs (95% in India) trusted cloud computing for the future wireless deployment. 43% of ITDMs (29% in India) surveyed provided guest access on their corporate wireless networks and 13% (3% in India) of these organizations were doing so without any security authentication.

When questioned about the future direction of their wireless security strategies, majority of respondents said that they would maintain focus on the most common security features – firewall & authentication, IPS, anti-virus, application control and URL filtering - to guard against the full extent of the threat landscape.
 
Inefficiency – The Gordian Knot of Wireless Security
 
83% of the ITDMs surveyed (94% in the case of India) were concerned that their existing wireless security was not efficient enough, despite putting the highest level of wireless security in place. Surprisingly, ITDMs from Japan showed least concerns (13%) about their wireless security.

Risk of Data Loss is Equally Challenging

When asked to cite the risks of operating on an unsecured wireless network, 48% of ITDMs (55% of Indian ITDMs) considered loss of sensitive corporate and customer data as the biggest risk to their organization. This was highest in APAC (56%), in contrast to the U.S. at 45% and EMEA 42%. Industrial espionage was cited as the next highest risk with 22% of ITDMs followed by non-compliance to industry regulations (13%), and service interruption and damage to corporate reputation ranked equal last (9%).
 
Guest Access in India

Only 29% of Indian ITDMs had the opportunity to choose guest access on their corporate wireless networks compared to 43% of the global respondents. 3% of the organizations which had guest access were doing without any security protection whatsoever (13% worldwide). The most common forms of guest security access in corporate wireless networks are using a temporary and unique username and password (46% worldwide & 38% in India) ahead of a captive portal with credentials (36% worldwide & 24% in India).

“The survey findings indicate that despite the growth in mobility strategies, wireless security has simply not been a priority for enterprises till date,” says Rajesh Maurya, Country Manager, India and SAARC at Fortinet. “As advanced persistent attacks increasingly target multiple entry points, and the cloud becomes more prevalent, it’s not an oversight organizations should risk any longer”.

“It’s positive to see IT Leaders beginning to recognize the role wireless security plays in protecting their critical business assets, yet there is more to be done. As IT strives to balance the need for strong network security with ubiquitous connectivity, wireless must be considered as part of a holistic security strategy to ensure broad and consistent protection for users and devices over wired and wireless access,” he adds.
 
Cloud Management Gains More Importance

The trend for cloud-based management looks all set to grow further with only 12% of enterprise ITDMs (5% in India) refusing to trust cloud computing for such critical management in the future.
Of the respondents who favored using cloud management for their wireless security, 58% of ITDMs (53% in India) wanted to use a private cloud infrastructure for wireless management and 42% (47% in India) would outsource to a third party managed services provider. 14% of those who consider outsourcing would only do so provided it is hosted in the same country.

 

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