How to do secure Wi-Fi in the BYOD and IoT era

As the demand for mobility continues to increase, and Wi-Fi quickly is replacing Ethernet as the primary access layer, many organisations are facing new security challenges.

This is especially timely with the greater demand for access from an ever-increasing number of guest and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD). In recent years, we’ve seen an influx of personal devices entering the workplace.

It all started with personal laptops but this has grown to include smartphones, tablets and smart watches to name a few. Each of these connects to the internet and each other, placing strain on the network and the security of it.

> See also: How to stay secure on public Wi-Fi

Of course, it’s not only user-driven devices that are connecting wirelessly. Organisations are seeing a larger array of intelligent systems and services. The Internet of Things (IoT) requires access to the network for better management, control or efficiency, including lighting, air-conditioning and surveillance systems.

And many of those systems are using Wi-Fi for convenience. Some organisations are leading the charge and have taken full advantage of these technological developments. For example, last year we saw Deloitte open a new super connected office in Amsterdam which tracks people as they enter and move around a building.

As a result of the mobility explosion, organisations are now hitting a crossroads when trying to plan for both secure and flexible network access. With a variety of users and devices craving connectivity, it is of course a difficult balance.

IT wants to offer users the freedom to connect and roam; however, that must not come at the expense of network security. The problem for many organisations is that ‘simple’ and ‘secure’ are not two words that are typically associated with one another.

For organisations to retain control of their mobility infrastructure while providing a better user experience, context is king. It’s important for them to understand who is using the devices, why they are using them, what they are accessing and where they are roaming.

Once that intelligence is available, it is much easier to drive security policies at the edge of the network and start to open the doors to the variety of devices that are knocking. Such a context-focused approach, however, should be seamless to the user.

All of this control should be taking place in the background. In the foreground, the user should be able to connect to the network with just a couple of clicks, whether a trusted corporate user, a welcomed guest, or a BYOD.

> See also: Don't allow your guest Wi-Fi to become a security risk

That means that organisations must provide simple authentication such as Private Pre-Shared Keys (PPSK), which give different levels of access to network users depending on the type of device and its owner.

Once the user or device is securely connected to the network, administrators can then use context-based access to limit access, bandwidth usage, application access, and location availability per user or device, unbeknown to them.

IT administrators should also leverage the cloud to easily manage all of this policy enforcement from the edge of the network, while gathering centralised visibility of how the network is actually being used.

Sourced from Aerohive Networks

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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