By Ven Taylor, Wireless Solutions Architect
The warning issued by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2021 to all federal employees, leading defense contractors, and military personnel, advises them to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. The agency explains the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi networks and even Bluetooth connections, stating that the risk is not merely theoretical, and that these malicious techniques are publicly known and in use.
It is important for anyone managing a wireless infrastructure to stay informed about the latest developments and best practices in securing wireless devices in public settings. As the world becomes increasingly digital, the need for secure wireless connections is more important than ever. With agency employees teleworking and traveling for work, the likelihood of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks increases. This makes it essential for agencies to have a plan in place to protect against potential threats.
One solution that can help protect against the risks associated with public Wi-Fi is the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs encrypt the data sent over public Wi-Fi networks, making it difficult for hackers to steal or manipulate the data. In addition to VPNs, other important steps to be taken are:
- Employing robust authentication and encryption measures such as Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) and/or Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE)
- Regularly updating security software and patching vulnerabilities
- Being aware of the potential threats and malicious techniques. Managing Wi-Fi networks and security is not just about implementing solutions. It also includes filling technology and training skills gaps as technology evolves, managing identities, implementing Network Access Controls, having Network Visibility and being prepared to prevent and respond to wireless network problems.