You probably work hard to protect your clients' networks, but wireless technologies take security to a completely new level — a lot of which is out of your control. Your best efforts simply aren't enough.
If your clients are going to utilize wireless technologies, they need knowledge, and they need to take responsibility for engaging that knowledge. You can't promise them 100% protection, 100% of the time, but you can help them help themselves. Most likely, they'll be connecting hardware at will without your guidance. When they do, they should follow these four security measures.
#1: Use encryption codes
Encryption codes won't stop a dedicated hacker, but they'll send most packing without even trying. Instruct clients to enable encryption on all new Wi-Fi products when prompted during installation.
#2: Change passwords
Most new equipment relies on a built-in, default password for installation. Clients should immediately change the default password after installing the equipment. Then, they should send the username and password to their in-house administrator or you, as appropriate.
#3: Enable firewalls
Clients with a bit of knowledge can disable a firewall — which is a perfect example of a little information being dangerous in the wrong hands. Enable the firewall and check it often. Better yet, have the system alert you if someone attempts to disable it or actually does so. Tell clients not to disable the firewall without your knowledge. Good luck enforcing that, but try just the same.
#4: Restrict outside equipment
This item gets boos and hisses — you just can't please everyone all the time! Honestly, you don't want to tie anyone's hands, but wide-open Wi-Fi is dangerous. Totally block unknown devices from sharing access. Initially, the setup will take a bit of time, but it's worth it. Force clients to contact you when they want to access the network via new equipment.
Now, in a perfect IT shop, you'd be in total control, and there'd be no problem, but we all know that's seldom the case. With a little education, you can help users avoid security mishaps where wireless access is concerned.
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Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.