RealTime IT News

WLANs Cause Widespread Security Concerns

By the end of 2002, 30 percent of all enterprises will risk security breaches because they've deployed 802.11b wireless local area networks (WLANs) without proper security, research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc. said Thursday.

About 50 percent of all enterprises play to install WLANs, according to Gartner, but at least 20 percent of large businesses already have "rogue" WLANs in place that were installed by users, not information technology (IT) shops, the firm claims. The users installed the LANs because they were unwilling to wait for IT personnel to install them.

Enterprises face the security issues because 802.11b systems are relatively easy for outside attackers to break into, Gartner says. Many WLAN deployments, particularly rogue deployments, operate without enough security, according to Gartner.

"Wireless LANs are broadcasting secrets of enterprises that have spent millions on Internet security," said John Pescatore, Gartner's research director. "Because WLANs are on every executive's wish list, CIOs should make sure they have security measures in place now."

The company notes that many newly-installed WLANs have no default security and that security measures must be implemented manually. It also advised that, until next-generation WLAN security standards are defined, IPSec virtual private networks (VPNs) should be run on all WLAN connections.

Gartner also urged that employees be educated about WLAN security risks.