Wireless Network the Weakest Security Link in Enterprise IT Infrastructure

Jason Charles Nadar, National Manager - Advance Technologies, SAARC, Fortinet
Monday, December 7, 2015
Jason Charles Nadar, National Manager - Advance Technologies, SAARC, Fortinet
Wireless networks have now become fairly common across Indian organisations. From banks and financial institutions to manufacturers and educational institutes, more and more people access a variety of applications at the workplace. While this proliferation of wireless has brought about an unprecedented ease of Internet access and encouraged a flexible, more productive work culture, it is not without security risks. Be it fraudulent access, malware injection or data theft, organisations are struggling to keep their information assets protected.

According to a new global survey from Fortinet, Information Technology decision makers (ITDMs) believe wireless networks to be the most vulnerable element of their IT infrastructure. About 40 percent of respondents from India ranked wireless networks as most exposed from a security standpoint. What is even more telling is that all the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) polled from India-without exception-expressed "insufficient wireless security" as a concern.

As per the survey, as many as 55 percent of ITDMs in India consider loss of sensitive corporate and/or customer data the biggest risk of operating an unsecured wireless environment.

These survey findings and the reports of data breaches that keep surfacing every now and then signify the challenges for Indian enterprises in protecting their critical data and preventing unauthorised access to applications. An information security survey by PwC estimates that the average cost of a security incident for Indian companies has more than doubled from $194 in 2013 to $414 in 2014. As a consequence, it says, there has been a 20 percent increase in the average losses. Wireless networks are particularly being targeted by hackers and other cyber-criminals.

Why wireless is so vulnerable
The reasons for the increasing threats to wireless networks are obvious: one, compared to just a few years back, wireless networks now have much wider adoption among enterprises. According to a report by research firm IDC, the wireless LAN market in India grew by over 47 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the year-ago period, clocking $45 million in revenue. This proliferation has put wireless on the radar of hackers, who are constantly coming up with newer and more sophisticated methods to breach the networks and gain unauthorised access to corporate data.

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