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2008.6 August - Business Security and Wireless Networks

Submitted by Admin on Sat, 09/08/2008 - 21:11

The convenience of a wireless network for your business computers must be weighed against the potential damage to your business if it is compromised.

The recent media excitement over the theft of credit and debit card information from TJX Companies, BJ's Wholesale Club, Office Max, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW has brought wireless network security into sharp focus. Eleven individuals have been indicted, one facing life in prison. But, as perspectives clear, the retailers are being asked why their security was flawed, and part of the blame for the losses will come to rest on the firms as they are required to compensate their customers for their carelessness.

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The theft of 41 million cards was not difficult. The software necessary to find and join the networks is available to the public! Even weak encryption is easily broken using a laptop or a hand held computer (PDA). Once they are in the network, the thieves can install hacking software on the business computers, and sit next door to collect their information. If your business is responsible for personal information of any kind, network security is your responsibility, and being a victim yourself means little to your customers when they suffer a loss.

Wireless networks have become common in both retail and office environments. They allow rapid network reconfiguration, as well as mobility within the work space. Wires can be inconvenient if you wish to move a computer. However, hard wired networks are still the most secure. Most wireless networks are self-installed, and the individual, at best, may pick up a copy of "Wireless Networks for Dummies". The section on encryption might as well be encrypted. It was not written to provide understanding for the layperson, so it is bypassed, and everything seems to be working... Oh well!

Nine major US retailers have a combined liability in the hundreds of millions of dollars because they were careless.

Most who penetrate your wireless network will use it to surf the web and to check their email. (You pay for their bandwidth.) All it will take is one malicious penetration, and your business will be compromised. If you handle sensitive information, you must secure your network, either by using a hard wired system, or by using wireless technology with competent encryption.

If you are unsure of the security of your wireless network, then it is probably not secure. Proper security is nether complex nor expensive. Improper security can destroy your business. Contact Inc. for an assessment of your network security, and we will be happy to help.

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