Is the Wireless Network the Weakest Security Link?

In India 10 in 10 CIOs report concerns over insufficient wireless protection; over one-third of enterprises found lacking basic wireless security

Information Technology decision makers believe wireless networks to be the most vulnerable element of the IT infrastructure (database is the most vulnerable element of the IT infrastructure for Indian respondents), according to a new survey from Fortinet.

Nearly half (49% worldwide and 40% in India) of respondents ranked wireless networks as most exposed from a security standpoint, in contrast to just 29% (34% in India) for the core network.

The survey also reveals that insufficient wireless security is a concern for almost all (92% and 100% in India) of the CIOs polled; hardly surprising given that more than one-third of the enterprise wireless networks put in place for internal employees (37% worldwide and 34% in India), do not have the basic security function of authentication in place.  

Other survey highlights

  • Nearly half of ITDMs (48% worldwide versus 55% in India) consider loss of sensitive corporate and/or customer data the biggest risk of operating an unsecured wireless environment.
  • 72% (83% in India) have adopted a cloud approach to management of their wireless infrastructure and 88% (95% in India) trust the cloud for future wireless deployment.
  • 43% (29% in India) of ITDMs polled provide guest access on their corporate wireless networks;  13% (3% in India) of these organizations do so without any controls whatsoever.

Wireless Networks at Risk

According to the survey, wireless networks are ranked as the most vulnerable IT infrastructure, with the highest proportion of ITDMs (49% WW vs 40% in India) placing it in their top two. Respondents positioned wireless as significantly more vulnerable than core networking infrastructure, with 29% of ITDMs ranking this highly (34% in India). In India, the most vulnerable IT infrastructure is database according to 43% of Indian respondents (25% worldwide).

Concern High over Insufficient Wireless Security

Of the ITDMs surveyed, 83% (94% of Indian ITDMs surveyed) are concerned their existing wireless security is not sufficient, with CIOs reporting the highest level of concern at 92% (100% in India). Despite deploying the highest level of security of all the regions surveyed, ITDMs across APAC are the most concerned about their wireless security with 44% stating they are very concerned, in contrast to 30% in the Americas, and 20% in EMEA.

Risk of Data Loss Tops Poll

When asked to cite the risks of operating an unsecured wireless network, 48% of ITDMs (55% of Indian ITDMs) considered loss of sensitive corporate and/or customer data as the biggest risk to their organization. This was highest at 56% in APAC, in contrast to the Americas at 45% and EMEA 42%.

The next highest risk, industrial espionage, was cited by just 22% of ITDMs, followed by non-compliance to industry regulations (13%), with service interruption and damage to corporate reputation ranked equal last (9%).   

Cloud Management Becomes the Norm

Wireless infrastructure governed by a premise-based controller is a thing of the past according to the findings, with on-site wireless controllers the least common form of management (28% vs 17% in India).

This trend for cloud-based management looks set to grow further, with only 12% (5% in India) of enterprise ITDMs refusing to trust the cloud for such critical management in the future.

71% do not provide Guest Access in India

Only 29% of India ITDMs polled provide guest access on their corporate wireless networks (compared to 43% of global respondents), with 3% of these organizations doing so without any controls whatsoever (13% worldwide).

The most common form of guest security access on corporate wireless networks is a unique and temporary username and password (46% vs 38% in India), ahead of a captive portal with credentials (36% vs 24% in India).


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