Companies are at risk from corporate espionage by their own employees who are building so-called pirate wireless networks to listen in on sensitive data and passwords.
According to researcher Gartner, pirate wireless networks are usually cobbled together using components that unscrupulous staff find in their IT departments to access data and passwords, crossing the backbones of any centralised internet network.
"What we see are workers in departments all around the world using wireless but without the authority of their IT managers," said Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds, who noted that his colleagues have often been able to log on to their clients' wireless networks during customer visits.
He pointed out that although wireless technologies are revolutionising the way business is done, "security efforts need to be thorough in all workplace areas".
"Proximity is key because wireless pirates must dial in from less than a couple of hundred yards from the traditional network they are tapping into," he said.
Gartner recommends changing network security codes, because default codes are open to any third party who knows the password. The researcher also urges companies to make use of wireless access points and isolate paths used by wireless users to access networks. "This will reduce the amount of backbone activity and reduce overall traffic," said Reynolds.
IT managers should also implement Media Access Control (MAC) address tracking to control network security. "Know who is travelling on your network by way of MAC. Also monitor access logs since the logs point to source addresses and make it easier to identify attempts to penetrate network log-in security," added Reynolds.
MAC could also disable stolen wireless devices remotely.
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