BAE Systems Applied Intelligence: Public Wi-Fi networks a threat to your businesses’ data


BAE logo_INSPIRED_WHITERecent announcements around free and open public Wi-Fi being rolled out in towns and cities across Australia is great news for consumers, but may expose businesses and their employees to data breaches if companies don’t protect against it, says Rajiv Shah, General Manager, Australia for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. As it becomes more common for employees to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and for businesses to allow employees to use their own devices to connect to corporate networks, associated security risks to the enterprise are also increasing. Organisations that fail to protect themselves against these risks and secure their information may be putting company data into the hands of cyber criminals.

Dr Rajiv Shah, said:  “When users access unencrypted networks, attackers can easily hijack the session and not only gather all sorts of sensitive information, including passwords, but also potentially inject malicious code to compromise the device.” “This makes everything on the device vulnerable – including any corporate data. If an employee then connects a compromised device to the corporate network this can be a backdoor route to let a determined criminal mount an even wider-ranging attack,” Dr Shah said.

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence suggests three steps for businesses to protect their corporate networks:

  1. Implement and enforce a strong security policy. Organisations should conduct a prioritised assessment of the risk that any mobile device, whether company owned or BYOD represents and develop a clear policy explaining how employees should use devices and setting out the security measures to protect information. Properly thought-through security will provide benefits to employees without unnecessarily impacting on the use of their personal devices.
  2. Educate employees. Businesses must educate employees about the risks of using their own devices and prioritising convenience over security. An obvious step would be education about the risks of using open, unencrypted Wi-Fi connections. This is one part of getting employees to care about security and understanding that they have an important role to play in keeping the organisation’s cyber security risk to a minimum.
  3. Implement appropriate security controls. Traditional mobile device management solutions will go some way to protecting companies, but there is much more that businesses can do. Businesses should install a multi-layered security model that includes device configuration and management, appropriate secure connection methods, on-network content filtering solutions, and ongoing monitoring of corporate networks.

For example, an appropriately encrypted VPN service could be used on untrusted networks. This can be combined with a global, cloud-based security solution that can scan the content and source the destination address by using specialised detection methods which block security threats and unacceptable content. “Companies need to consider appropriate security measures to protect against cyber criminals accessing their information and networks through activities staff may think are seemingly harmless,” Dr Shah said.


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