Nowadays, employees, customers, and stakeholders at all levels are adopting BYOD onboarding practices.
Fortunately, it’s entirely possible for companies to restrict network access until clients have been approved.
If a user brings a tablet, phablet, laptop, or smartphone from home and attempts to connect to a Wi-Fi network, these connections can be redirected to a restricted network access portal.
BYOD onboarding configurations allow seemingly complex environments to be secured.
There is no doubt that virtually all electronic devices will be part of an online connected network in the future. In fact, it’s happening as we speak.
From wireless lighting and AC units to smart refrigerators, microwaves, ovens, TVs, and computing devices – the world has become a veritable IoT haven.
Interconnected Wi-Fi devices now have BYOD connections to contend with too.
Headless devices are readily being combined with BYOD, and companies are having to deal with a surge in these and other types of devices.
When Internet-ready devices are introduced to Wi-Fi networks, IT teams run the risk of losing a degree of control over network security.
The integrity of online security systems is sacrosanct in companies, failing which hackers can run rampant and cause major disruptions to network security.
Guarding Against Malware Attacks with Restricted Wi-Fi Access for BYOD
Malware is a major threat to IoT devices. Companies have options at their disposal; they can summarily exclude all BYOD devices, thereby restricting all access to the Wi-Fi network, or they can implement powerful network systems to manage the security infrastructure effectively.
Over time, Wi-Fi networks have replaced Ethernet, at least at the corporate level. Yet this has not lessened the burden on IT security teams.
With many more individuals making demands on a company’s Wi-Fi network, including employees, contractors, guests, and other stakeholders, necessary changes are afoot.
We are seeing a surge in the adoption of the BYOD policy. This practice has served the purposes of increased productivity and fostered greater team motivation at companies.
Yet, in spite of these positives, there are challenges afoot. These include potentially endangering a company’s core assets and data.
Precisely what type of BYOD policies adopted vis-a-vis Wi-Fi connectivity varies from one company to the next.
Different layers of network security may be afforded to different users, based on their connection to the company.
For example, employees may have unimpeded access to a company’s Wi-Fi network, while guests may have limited accessibility.
Recommendations for Securing Wi-Fi connections
It is imperative to determine the methodology used for network authentication. A leading provider of Wi-Fi security services for BYOD – Portnox – recommends WPA2-Enterprise a.k.a. WPA-802.1X mode, otherwise known as Portnox CLEAR Secure Wi-Fi with SaaS implementation.
This BYOD device security management solution uses powerful authentication technology to secure networks.
Rather than using a single password, the Wi-Fi connection is authenticated by way of unique identities.
This takes the form of digital certificates, orusername + password combination. Enterprise-level corporations across the board routinely tout the efficacy of this type of configuration.
Any device that requests Internet access needs to be authenticated, thereby protecting the endpoints, and alerting IT departments to any suspicious activity on the network.
Not only does this protect servers, company information, and guard against hacking activity, it is also a much better approach to simply adopting a shared password.
Many companies use SSID for employees that have company-issued devices and their own devices.
Guests and contractors can connect to unique guest and contractor Internet connections, without compromising the safety, security, and integrity of the company network.
Several core challenges exist with respect to BYOD and Wi-Fi networks. These include, but are not limited to, the burden placed on Internet bandwidth, and the costs associated with increased Internet usage.
If bandwidth is overloaded, networks will slow, and potentially shut down. This is bad for business on every level.
Furthermore, in the event of a security breach, core company assets like servers and data could be compromised.
This can severely affect the day-to-day operations of the company, endangering its very well-being in the process.
From the outset, the challenges associated with granting access to a company’s Wi-Fi are overwhelmingly burdensome.
It appears that there is no way for a company to adopt a blanket strategy to protect against bad actors on all devices.
Yet, the enforcement of a strict BYOD/Wi-Fi policy is essential to prevent data leakage, IT infrastructure damage, malware infections, or mixing personal and corporate data.
These challenges, overwhelming though they may be, are essential elements to tackle when formulating ironclad security systems for Wi-Fi connections.
Wi-Fi Users: Employees, Contractors, and Guests
It makes sense to restrict Internet access to people, based on their relationship with the company.
For example, access to a company’s sensitive data should be limited to high-level individuals with corporate employees bearing specific ID credentials. This applies to corporate-managed endpoints.
The level of security at this point on the spectrum is extremely high. The security decreases as the credentials include AD, Azure, AD, and OKTA. With this, employee BYOD still requires corporate employee SSID.
Employees serve as permanent ‘members’ of a company and their BYOD Wi-Fi accessibility is generally available 24/7/365.
Contractors are individuals with temporary credentials and should be afforded restricted Internet access.
The level of security for temporary credentials is lower, yet the Internet access granted to contractors is for a longer timeframe than a company’s guests are afforded.
Depending on the department the contractors are working at, they will be allowed to access more sensitive resources and data.
Clearly, segmentation is one of the most effective ways to protect companies from bad actors using their own devices with BYOD Wi-Fi connections.
By placing the outer edge of the Wi-Fi network as far away as possible from the inner-core of valuable data, including servers, and valuable company information, corporations can protect against malicious intent.
Headless devices remain the most vulnerable to attack.
Firewalls are weak security measures to employ, and these are typically implemented on the network’s outer edge.
Firewalls typically inspect traffic that passes through, and any security breaches that have made it through the outer bands of a network are typically embedded within the network infrastructure already.
This makes firewalls weak options when it comes to challenges posed by BYOD and WLAN.
Segmentation serves as a highly beneficial system on multiple levels, notably flexibility, security, and visibility.
For all of these reasons, Wi-Fi network security with BYOD and IoT devices is no longer a value-added feature; it is an absolute necessity.