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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Trend to Wireless Sparks Renewed Security Concerns

Like the myth of Prometheus, almost every technological advancement has brought with it some sort of negative, and the Internet is no exception. The ability to log into a company network and share information among co-workers can make one’s life more convenient. However, such accessibility heightens the need for Internet security. Companies can be caught flat-footed and have their systems hacked into by intruders with the potential to cause massive damage. The good news for companies timid about going wireless is that with the proper precautions, any system can be made 100 percent safe and secure. “Internet traffic travels through the air and the main concern is that someone sitting in the middle will see this traffic and gain information. Companies need to encrypt that traffic and there are a number of different encryption schemes. They range from the simple ones, some of which are too simple and it have given wireless a black eye, to the more complex and effective schemes,” said Doug Huemme, the assistant vice-president of strategic and channel marketing, for Calabasas-based Strix Systems, a manufacturer of wireless systems networks. “Even a good encryption scheme implemented poorly can be easy to crack. However, the industry has responded and brought out new more robust standards.” Huemme stressed that different companies have different security needs. Larger companies that trade in extremely sensitive information such as health care firms and banks need to utilize the most rigorous security measures possible. “I talk to people about deploying a network and securing it in terms of authentication, encryption, and monitoring. From an authentication standpoint, it’s a question of, if someone comes into the network, how do I know if they’re trusted,” Huemme said. “To authenticate users, one can use a whole range of standards, from an access control list, to using a port based authentication scheme. Larger companies tend to go with comprehensive authentication schemes.” Compartmentalizing Symark Systems, an Agoura Hills-based firm, specializes in organizing Internet systems to minimize the likelihood of a company’s sensitive information being stolen. “Symark stops hackers by using a unique product. Instead of having to give each person inside the company a root password, we can compartmentalize the tasks within a system so that a company can conceal as much or as little as it wants from its employees. While everyone in the company might use the same network, we can make it so that only a CEO can see the most confidential material,” Jeff McGrath, Symark’s director of product marketing, said. Symark also functions as a sort-of Internet detective, where if a company is hacked into, the location of the break-in can be instantly located. “We log all the command line tasks down to the keystroke level. If a server goes down and someone changed a configuration file, we can go through and see which file was touched on which system,” McGrath said. Several companies that have implemented wireless Internet systems (often considered the most vulnerable to attack), claim that adequate security has not been difficult to maintain. “When we switched to wireless Internet we knew that we had to safeguard our systems. Our number one concern was security, but the Strix system that we implemented had numerous security systems embedded in it,” Roger Seflinger, vice-president of Sherman Oaks based Premiere Radio Networks said. City security Doane Liu, deputy mayor to James Hahn, expressed confidence in the security of the wireless network deployment at Van Nuys’ Marvin Braude Constituent Center. “All of the vendors that we used to provide the wireless Internet have been extremely concerned with security. We’re confident that we’ll be able to provide adequate security,” Liu said. Allen Horwitz’s company, Pacific Coast Cabling has implemented wireless Internet across large metropolitan areas and has been consistently been able to avoid any problems with hackers. “People need to understand that security problems do exist. Security doesn’t come out of the box instantly. You have to plan carefully. You can’t turn (wireless) wide open, it’s not plug and play,” Horwitz said. “Companies need an overall security policy with set standards. They must apply those standards across all platforms. It’s a fairly complex task, but not impossible and definitely not trivial. Yet there are effective security measures that can be used on all platforms.” Huemme maintained that by careful deliberating about which security implementation works best for one’s needs, companies need not worry. “Businesses can be 100 percent safe. All of the tools to make them secure exist. The biggest challenge for most businesses is turning the systems on and implementing them,” Huemme said. Security measures have corresponded to the increased sophistication of Internet hackers. These systems used to protect companies will only continue to evolve with time. “You will see increased authentication measures. Companies will likely require some sort of token gizmo, like a keychain, with an encrypted numerical token that will be required for you to do transactions. One will need a password plus the encrypted token,” McGrath said. “Good security is imperative for an individual or a business program. The push for stronger authentication methods will only continue.”

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