Risk
8/27/2009
03:45 PM
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Is Your Wi-Fi Network Open to Intrusion?

Security has been an ongoing concern among wireless LANs users since their emergence in the middle 1990s. While vendors have worked diligently to close up any holes, new ones seem to emerge on a regular period, and one is now coming to light that could impact many small and medium businesses.

Security has been an ongoing concern among wireless LANs users since their emergence in the middle 1990s. While vendors have worked diligently to close up any holes, new ones seem to emerge on a regular period, and one is now coming to light that could impact many small and medium businesses.Almost as soon as they began shipping, Wi-Fi connections were deemed insecure. Initially, the underlying security checks and encryption algorithms were simple and easy to break. The wireless LAN industry has developed a variety of different security approaches -- WEP, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA 2  that have had varying levels of success. Recently, Japanese computer scientists developed a way to break WPA security in as little as one minute, which means companies wireless connections could be open to hackers.

On the plus side, the attacks do not work with any WPA 2 devices using the WPA the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm. Such products started shipping in the summer of 2006, so newer WLAN access points, switches, and routers should be safe. However, businesses need to check all of their Wi-Fi devices, identify any WPA systems, and either upgrade them to WPA 2 or dump them. Once that process is complete, their wireless LANs should be safe  at least until the next Wi-Fi security hole is identified.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.