Gartner Warns of Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities
Wi-Fi's promise is also its Achilles Heel: It drastically lowers the barrier
for both access and attack from both within and without.
One upshot of this, industry watchers say, is growing demand for WLAN intrusion
prevention systems (IPS). This year, for example, WLAN IPS revenues are expected
to reach $168 million -- a 41 percent uptick from 2007's tally. Sure, it's a
drop in the bucket, at least compared to overall security (or network security,
for that matter) spending, but it's nonetheless an area of red-hot growth.
That's the upshot of a new study from market research giant Gartner Inc.,
which -- citing several recent WLAN security exploits -- concludes
that the WLANs of today comprise a "significant vulnerability" for
enterprise IT organizations.
Gartner's Rx, not surprisingly, is a beefed-up intrusion prevention process
that addresses both wired and wireless networks. "We believe that the initial
sales of WLAN IPS products have penetrated the Global 5000 companies and government
agencies who are early adopters of wireless technologies," said Gartner Vice
President John Pescatore in a statement. "As the business-crucial use of WLANs
and other wireless technologies continues to increase, the need for wireless
security monitoring will grow as well."
Gartner cites a number of wireless security drivers -- including (interestingly)
the proposed Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards.
The situation is made more complicated by the rapid pace of WLAN adoption.
Organizations have shifted -- if not overnight, then very quickly -- from reflexive
opposition to WLANs to something just short of enthusiastic adoption.
As a result, IT's default security stance vis-à-vis wireless has itself
changed. Where IT once focused on detecting and shutting down rogue wireless
access points (WAP), it now focuses on detecting and patching misconfigured
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.