Posts

Is 802.11ax Going Away? And What is Wi-Fi 6?

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a change in the Wi-Fi naming standards. Yep. That’s right. The terms that you are now used to — like 802.11ax, 802.11ac and 802.11n — are being replaced with a much simpler naming scheme: Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4, respectively.

Anything that predates 802.11n isn’t officially getting a name change. This move from Wi-Fi Alliance is aimed at making it simpler for manufacturers and consumers to understand and use the technologies. Along with the new names, they get new logos as well. However, from a regulatory and specification standpoint, the names still retain its techy naming scheme: IEEE 802.11.

“For nearly two decades, Wi-Fi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest Wi-Fi,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance, in the official announcement. “Wi-Fi Alliance is excited to introduce Wi-Fi 6, and present a new naming scheme to help industry and Wi-Fi users easily understand the Wi-Fi generation supported by their device or connection.”

New Wi-Fi Naming Standards

  • Wi-Fi 6 identifies devices that support 802.11ax technology
  • Wi-Fi 5 identifies devices that support 802.11ac technology
  • Wi-Fi 4 identifies devices that support 802.11n technology

Source: Wi-Fi Alliance

According to a new study by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the global economic value of Wi-Fi will reach $1.96 trillion this year and increase to $3.5 trillion by 2023. To keep up with the proliferation of Wi-Fi devices, it is essential to introduce technologies to keep pace with the changing tides. One of the most talked about wireless technologies in the recent times is the 802.11ax standard, or Wi-Fi 6.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is currently deemed the future of Wi-Fi. Why? This is because it introduces significant wireless enhancements over the current Wi-Fi 5 technology.

With the rise in the number of devices and bandwidth-intensive applications, one of the biggest challenges we face on Wi-Fi networks is poor performance. In addition to having high, system-wide throughput, it is also essential to ensure high performance on a per-client basis, specifically for high-density use cases.

This is where Wi-Fi 6 could greatly improve performance, concurrent connections and business productivity. The significant benefits introduced by Wi-Fi 6 include:

  • Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) Wi-Fi 6 introduces OFDMA, which is an enhancement over orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), a technology that is used in Wi-Fi 5 and dates back to the 802.11a era. OFDM allows only one transmission at a time. OFDMA, in comparison, divides a channel into resource units to allow multiple communications simultaneously.With Wi-Fi 6, each resource unit can be as low as 2MHz and as high as 160MHz. This enables multiple data transmissions across multiple devices at the same time, improving overall network efficiency and capacity. Doing so allows frequencies to be divided into smaller subcarriers so that traffic can be coordinated to serve more packets from more devices, increasing the network’s capacity.
  • Upstream and Downstream Multi-User Multiple-In Multiple-Out (MU-MIMO)
    With Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2, MU-MIMO was restricted to only downstream communication, whereas Wi-Fi 6 adds support for MU-MIMO in both upstream and downstream communications. Previously, only the wireless access point (AP) could transmit data to clients simultaneously. Now, clients can transmit data simultaneously back to the AP.
  • 1024 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)
    Wi-Fi 5 supports 256 QAM, while Wi-Fi 6 can support 1024 QAM. This denser modulation enables a speed burst of more than 35 percent. This boosts Wi-Fi performance and is most effective for users closer to the access point.
  • Target Wake Time (TWT)
    This mechanism enables AP and client devices to coordinate wake times when devices need to be awake. Doing so improves efficiency, reduces contention and enables power-saving by identifying times when the devices will be awake to send or receive data. This is especially useful in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, leading to significant power-savings for battery-powered devices.
  • Enhancement to 5GHz and 2.4GHz Frequency Bands
    Unlike the Wi-Fi 5 standard that introduced enhancement to only the 5GHz band, Wi-Fi 6 introduces enhancement to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Data speed of up to 9.6 Gbps is possible with Wi-Fi 6. Enhancements offered by Wi-Fi 6 boost average per-client performance by up to four times in comparison with Wi-Fi 5. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is backwards-compatible with older technologies like Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4.

Solving Challenges with the Wi-Fi 6 Wireless Standard

Wi-Fi 6 is designed for IoT and high-density deployments, including stadiums, universities, shopping malls, transportation hubs, where there are large congregations of people.

At this point in time, Wi-Fi 6 technology is still being amended. The finalized draft is expected in late 2019. Until the standard is finalized, it is not advisable to purchase Wi-Fi 6 products.

In addition, there are no real-world clients to benefit from the Wi-Fi 6 enhancements. Let’s face it, even the latest Apple iPhone XS doesn’t even support Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2. The time is right to expand your network on Wi-Fi 5, as it still gaining traction.

SonicWall offers cutting-edge Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 access points to address the growing needs of Wi-Fi 5 devices. To learn more about how you can securely expand your network, click here.

Executive Brief: Securing the Next Wave of Wireless

Wireless connectivity is ubiquitous in today’s mobile, global economy. Wireless devices range from smartphones and laptops to security cameras and virtual reality headsets. Businesses need to recognize and address their need for high quality, performance and security across wireless networks and endpoints.

3 Ways to Prevent Cryptominers from Stealing Your Processing Power

Visiting a website is no longer what it used to be.

Despite this hilarious Imgur post, there is a different trend you may not have noticed: cryptomining via the browser. Many news and procrastination (e.g., BuzzFeed) websites add dozens of trackers to monetize the experience.

However, some sites may also use your browser to mine cryptocurrencies (e.g., bitcoin, Ethereum or Monero) for their own financial gain. The mining stops once you leave, but there is a popular new form of malware that attempts to turn your device into a full-time cryptocurrency mining bot called a cryptojacker. Cryptojacking’s threat to your endpoint or business is based on three things:

  • The energy it consumes or wastes
  • The damage it can do to a system
  • The loss to productivity due to limited resources.

Unlike ransomware that wants to be found (to ask for payment), a cryptojacker’s job is to run invisibly in the background although your CPU performance graph or device’s fan may indicate something is not normal.

Despite our vigilance and knowledge of the warning signs, a report from the Ponemon Institute stated the average length of time for an organization to discover malware or a data breach in 2017 was 191 days.

Ransomware authors have switched gears over the past two years to use cryptojacking more, because a ransomware strain’s effectiveness and ROI diminish as soon as it ends up on public feeds like VirusTotal. Like anyone else running a highly profitable business, cybercriminals need to constantly find new ways to fulfill their financial targets. Cryptojacking may solve that.

For example, the Apple App Store briefly carried a version of a free app called ‘Calendar 2’ that mined Monero cryptocurrency while open. It reportedly made $2,000 in two days before it was pulled from the App Store.

The Lure of Cryptomining

Cryptomining operations have become increasingly popular, now consuming almost half a percent of the world’s electricity consumption. Despite the wild swings in price, roughly 60 percent of the cost of legitimately mining bitcoin is the energy consumption. In fact, at the time of writing, the price of a bitcoin is worth less than the cost of mining it legitimately.

With such costs and zero risk as compared to buying and maintaining equipment, cybercriminals have strong incentives to generate cryptocurrency with someone else’s resources. Infecting 10 machines with a cryptominer could net up to $100/day, so the challenge for cryptojackers is three-fold:

  1. Find targets, namely organizations with a lot of devices on the same network, especially schools or universities.
  2. Infect as many machines as possible.
  3. Unlike ransomware, and more akin to traditional malware, stay hidden for as long as possible.

Cryptojackers use similar techniques as malware to sneak on to an endpoint: drive-by downloads, phishing campaigns, in-browser vulnerabilities and browser plugins, to name a few. And, of course, they rely on the weakest link — the people — via social engineering techniques.

How to Know if You are Infected by Cryptominers

Cryptominers are interested in your processing power, and cryptojackers have to trade off stealth against profit. How much of your CPU resources they take depends on their objectives.

Siphoning less power makes it harder for unsuspecting users to notice. Stealing more increases their profits. In either case, there will be a performance impact, but if the threshold is low enough it could be a challenge to distinguish the miner from legitimate software.

Enterprise administrators may look for unknown processes in their environment, and end users on Windows should spawn a Sysinternals Process Explorer to see what they are running. Linux and macOS users should investigate using System Monitor and Activity Monitor, respectively, for the same reason.

How to Defend Against Cryptominers

The first step in defending against cryptominers is to stop this type of malware at the gateway, either through firewalls or email security (perimeter security), which is one of the best ways to scrub out known file-based threats. Since people like to reuse old code, catching cryptojackers like CoinHive can be a simple first step.

If the malware strain is unknown (new or updated), then it will bypass static filters in perimeter security. If a file is unknown, it will be routed to a sandbox to inspect the nature of the file.

In the case of SonicWall Capture ATP, the multi-engine sandbox environment is designed to identify and stop evasive malware that may evade one engine but not the others.

If you have an endpoint not behind this typical set up (e.g., it’s roaming at the airport or hotel), you need to deploy an endpoint security product that includes behavioral detection.

Cryptominers can operate in the browser or be delivered through a fileless attack, so the legacy solutions you get free with a computer are blind to it.

A behavioral-based antivirus like SonicWall Capture Client would detect that the system wants to mine coins and then shut down the operation. An administrator can easily quarantine and delete the malware or, in the case of something that does damage to system files, roll the system back to the last known good state before the malware executed.

By combining a mixture of perimeter defenses and behavioral analysis, organizations can fight the newest forms of malware no matter what the trend or intent is.

To learn more about how you can defend your organization from these threats I recommend reading this white paper, “Best Practices for Protection Against Phishing, Ransomware and Email Fraud.”

SonicWall’s Multi-Cloud Offering Extends to Hyper-V Private Clouds with Flexible Licensing

Technology and data usage are changing at a rapid pace. Finding a way to store, manage and distribute data is a major challenge. Plus, the need for compute and storage grows at unprecedented rates. You need to buy racks, then hire staff to configure, maintain and monitor appliances.

It’s a no-brainer that cloud adoption is becoming inevitable.

According to a recent study by RightScale, more than 81 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy in place. Of this group, 51 percent have embraced hybrid cloud environments, while 21 percent use multiple public clouds and 10 percent have various private cloud strategies.

Cloud adoption drives business growth by increasing agility and innovation, while reducing cost. According to Gartner, by 2020 a “No-Cloud” policy will be as rare as a “No-Internet” policy is today. So, you can imagine the importance of secure cloud adoption. It is the future.

Private Cloud Security from SonicWall

In line with this, SonicWall continues to expand its cloud offering with added support of the Microsoft Hyper-V platform on SonicWall Network Security virtual (NSv) firewall series, along with new flexible licensing options. SonicWall also recently announced support for AWS* and Azure platforms.

Hyper-V support is available across the full suite of NSv firewalls. The flexible licensing model introduces a non-perpetual method of licensing your firewalls. Securing data wherever it resides should be consistent and seamless, providing you increased flexibility and an improved security posture.

Do I Need Virtual Firewalls?

While securing the cloud is a must, it is not an easy task. Gartner predicts that through 2020, 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. And according to Research and Markets, the cloud data center market is expected to reach $67.5 billion by 2023.

With the widespread adoption of virtualization, it becomes increasingly critical to secure workloads and data across your multi-cloud deployment. Virtual firewalls can be deployed quickly, driving productivity and innovation. By being virtual, there is a huge benefit of shifting from CapEx to OpEx models.

Virtual firewalls, like NSv, address some of the critical needs of public cloud security. Below are some of the key benefits of leveraging NSv to protect your public cloud infrastructure and resources.

  • Gain complete visibility into virtual environment for threat prevention
  • Implement proper security zoning and ensure appropriate placement of policies
  • Defend against zero-day vulnerabilities with SonicWall Capture ATP
  • Prevent service disruptions in the virtual ecosystem
  • Gain centralized control and visibility with single-pane-of-glass management via Capture Security Center
  • Leverage agility and scalability without performance impact
  • Maintain security governance, compliance and risk management

Plus, as the threat landscape evolves and takes advantage of various vulnerabilities in the cloud and virtual workloads, it is essential to secure cloud infrastructure. Some of the common type of attacks include cross-virtual machine attacks and side-channel attacks, like PortSmash and Foreshadow.

Virtual firewalls can be used to defend against information threats and protect against unauthorized takeover of virtual machines (VMs). It can provide security at every level of the virtual environment, providing granular security posture control.

What Cloud Platforms do SonicWall Virtual Firewalls Support?

With NSv virtual firewalls you can leverage next-gen firewall capabilities across your multi-cloud deployments. Platform support currently extends to ESXi, Azure, AWS* and Hyper-V*.

How Can I Purchase NSv?

Previously, NSv was available only via perpetual licensing. To solve the challenge of relying just on perpetual model licensing and provide flexibility to our customers, SonicWall introduces non-perpetual licensing for NSv. This is an additional offering to the current SonicWall perpetual licensing model.

SonicWall licensing models provide customers the flexibility to choose perpetual licensing or non-perpetual licensing based on their requirements.

Non-Perpetual Licensing Model

Non-perpetual licensing is ideal for those who require a short-term solution and agile deployments. It’s a single bundle for firewall software, security and support services, making it simple to purchase these appliances. Once the period ends, all services expire at the same time. Customers are notified via MySonicWall before service expiration.

The non-perpetual licensing model is available via the three options: IPS/App Control Subscription, TotalSecure Subscription and TotalSecure Advanced Subscription, which is available over a one-year period.

Service Offering TypeBundled Service
IPS/App Control SubscriptionNSv Software + IPS + App Control + Support
TotalSecure SubscriptionNSv Software + CGSS + Support + CSC
TotalSecure Advanced SubscriptionNSv Software + AGSS + Support + CSC

Perpetual Licensing Model

Perpetual licensing is SonicWall’s traditional licensing model where firewall services do not expire, while security and support services do. Perpetual licensing is suitable to customers that require long-term solutions.

Virtual Firewall Promo: NSa/NSsp with NSv

The SonicWall NSv promo enables organizations to extend the next-gen security of their private data center to the public cloud and ensure end-to-end security of their multi-cloud environment.

Organizations can test drive SonicWall virtual firewalls at no additional cost or commitment to see if it fits their needs and requirements.

  • Test drive an NSv with a TotalSecure subscription for one year at no additional cost
  • Get an NSv TotalSecure subscription with Comprehensive Gateway Security Service (CGSS), Capture Security Center and 24×7 support
  • Requires eligible SonicWall NSa or NSsp firewall with an active AGSS/CGSS subscription
  • Deploy NSv firewalls across public and private cloud platforms, including ESXi, Azure, AWS* and Hyper-V*

To take advantage of the SonicWall NSv virtual firewall promo, please contact your dedicated SonicWall SecureFirst partner or reach out to SonicWall online.

What to Look for in a Next-Gen Virtual Firewall

To best capitalize on virtualization trends, IT must operationalize the complete virtualization of computing, networking, storage and security in a systematic way. A new approach is required to select an appropriate and effective next-generation virtual firewall solution. Download our exclusive brief to explore fundamental capabilities, core solution requirements and best practices.

* Hyper-V and AWS availability pending.

Should I Become an MSSP? 13 Considerations from MSP Expo

With the cyber security skills gap being a point of contention for closing in on five years now, the managed security services provider (MSSP) industry has responded in kind.

In fact, Gartner predicted that 40 percent of all managed security services contracts will be bundled with other security services and IT outsourcing projects by 2020.

But the fact is, not every IT vendor, distributor or value-added reseller (VAR) is cut out to be an MSSP. For each MSSP that truly adds value in protecting their customers, there are others that fall short of what the cyber security industry — and prospective customers — requires.

I recently attended the MSP Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., to participate on an engaging panel of cyber security experts, including Guy Cunningham, VP of Channel Sales and Alliances at EventTracker; Jonathan Morgan, Director of Security Operations and Development at Area 1 Security; and DV Dronamraju, Managing Director at InfoSecEnforcer.com.

While we were able to collectively field and discuss many of the day’s top questions, I felt it prudent to republish these topics to help a broader audience of existing and future MSSPs.

What should business customers be most concerned about relative to cybersecurity, and why?

It’s rapidly changing threat landscape. For instance, we are seeing crypto-jacking this year as a new cyber threat. And while ransomware volume was somewhat down in 2017, new threat intelligence already shows a massive 299 percent year-to-date increase in 2018. So, the landscape continues to be agile and cybercriminals are diligent in seeking out new ways to impact organizations.

What can MSPs do to protect their customers from cyberattacks?

It’s important to consistently employ basic best practices: patching, updates, segmentation, etc. For MSP/MSSPs, the reality is that customers need help with this. So, developing services that take care of the basics is a great place to start. From there, you can scale your services and offerings to enhance their security postures.

Phishing is the root cause of data breaches and financial losses. How do anti-phishing solutions work?

They’re valuable in a variety of ways, but most email security solutions revolve around maturing the hygiene capabilities of corporate email platforms. Whether deployed on-premise or in the cloud, email security should automatically protect inboxes against links and attachments that are commonly used in phishing attacks.

More advanced offerings will use URL filtering and integrate with cloud sandboxes for protecting against known and unknown malware attacks. So, I believe strongly that we need to work to get advanced email security solutions more widely adopted in the market. Hygiene solutions, which most people think of when they hear security, just isn’t good enough anymore.

What kind of margins do email security solutions offer for MSSPs?

While there are many variables in play here, an MSSP could expect a margin of 10-15 percent for an email security product, or 30-50 percent margins if you provide email security as a service.

Since more than 89 percent of breaches have a financial or espionage motive, how are companies supposed to protect their intellectual property?

At a basic level, organizations should map their data so they know what’s most valuable and requires the most security. Depending on what’s being protected, consider using industry compliance guidelines (e.g., PCI, HIPAA, GDPR, etc.) as a baseline, but understand that compliance does not equal automatic security.

From there, layered strategies should include everything from network security firewalls, endpoint protection, secure email and even protection for remote access workers.

What do Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions do, and why are they important? Aren’t they expensive to buy and difficult to operate?

Anybody who has ever used a SIEM will tell you, much like many cyber security tools, it will depend on the investment — time, staff, technology and resources – you put into it.

At the core, SIEMs help organizations correlate event logs (e.g., endpoint protection,  threat intelligence, user information, etc.) to search for patterns based on defined rules. They then provide a correlated output that flags potential risks or threats. They are extremely powerful and give organizations the ability to tune and customize rules for their specific environment(s).

But you have to know what you’re doing. And you have to have strong security engineers to get the most out of a SIEM.

Operationally, some MSSPs leverage a centralized SIEM model (i.e., all customer data flows through a single SIEM), where other MSSPs rely on a decentralized model that leverages whatever SIEM each customer already has in place. In both MSSPs and enterprises, SIEMs are typically used by Tier 1 security operations center (SOC) analysts to monitor alerts and identify events in real time.

How can MSSPs use artificial intelligence and automation to detect threats, trigger alerts, troubleshoot and address security situations?

The reality is that building your own artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities is probably not realistic unless you are a very, very large MSSP. So, ideally, you want to rely on the AI already built in to security products to help you identify and block cyberattacks to protect customers.

For example, SonicWall engineered very smart AI that we integrate into the real-time engines that power our Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox capabilities. This can allow you to leverage AI without the overhead and complexity of building it yourself.  Then you can use an intelligent SIEM to help make sense of the logs and alerts.

Finding and/or developing cyber security talent can be a challenge. There seems to be a constant shortage of affordable, qualified cyber security practitioners. What do MSPs need in terms of technical, sales and support talent?

The key here is retaining the talent that you train. Companies like SonicWall provide entire platforms to train people — both internal staff and partners — on cyber security best practices, products and emerging threat trends. We call it SonicWall University. Our SecureFirst partners can leverage this platform to train their employees, significantly improving value for their customers. It’s best to consistently use engaging tools to train people and then build a culture that makes them want to stay.

How can MSPs provide enhanced security without adding complexity and overhead?

In a way, MSSPs are supposed to take away the complexity and overhead. We talk a lot today about getting the basics right and the transition from MSP to MSSP. Complex, enterprise-class MSSPs have lots of money, but if you are making the transition from MSP, start with taking the burden of the basics off the customer.

Make sure security devices are installed correctly, patched and have good policies. Make sure good endpoint security is deployed and managed. Provide useful reporting so customers know how well they’re doing. Removing the complexity from the customers is absolutely critical to success.

How does compliance figure in to being an MSSP?

This is massively important. A lot of mid-market MSSPs focus almost exclusively on a vertical. We see healthcare-focused MSSP or others targeting financial services (e.g., PCI). Compliance regulations drive need, so focusing on a vertical is definitely an option — particularly for MSSPs that can’t quite scale to solve all security challenges across an untold number of industries.

But especially if you are just starting in the MSSP space, trying to solve all compliance needs is a tough challenge. So, pick your spots when it comes to compliance.

How can MSSPs protect themselves from financial ruin and lost reputation if their customers do experience an outage or breach?

Good question. But the short answer is you have to indemnify yourself. And also have some level of insurance. And make sure your service-level agreements (SLA) make sense.

What kind of security guarantees/SLAs should an MSSP offer?

This is a very broad topic and also very dependent on the services being offered. The key for the market is that you are selling to match up the SLAs in a way you know you can hit. Take response times for rule changes, for example. You can’t promise you’ll have them done in 30 minutes, 24/7, if you don’t have people on staff around the clock.

How can MSSPs differentiate their security offerings in the marketplace?

We touched on this a bit with the challenge of removing complexity for the customer. Strive to make the entire experience transparent and frictionless.

One of my SonicWall colleagues, Conrad Bell, actually penned an outstanding strategy, “Inside the Modern MSSP,” for MSSP Alert. It outlines how proactive MSSPs are adopting bundled, end-to-end approaches for simplifying cyber security for their customers.


Become a SonicWall MSSP Partner

Are you interested in expanding your security offerings? SonicWall offers the dedicated SecureFirst MSSP Partner Program to help you expand your portfolio to include a full range of flexible managed security services built on SonicWall’s robust security platform.

The SonicWall SecureFirst MSSP program offers training, enablement, support and financial benefits designed to help SecureFirst Partners grow their managed security business.

Build your MSSP offerings by implementing SonicWall MSS blueprints, or work with SonicWall to create customized MSS offerings leveraging your existing managed services expertise.

What is MU-MIMO wireless technology?

Did you know that wireless technology dates back to the 19th century? Through the years, great inventors like Michael Faraday, Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla helped mold the concepts and theories behind electromagnetic radio frequency (RF).

It wasn’t until 1997, however, that the first 802.11 technology was introduced, which is known as the 802.11 legacy standard today. Since then, each new standard either introduced new technology or significantly improved over an older one.

The same holds true for 802.11ac technology. 802.11ac Wave 1 offered a significant enhancement over its predecessor, 802.11n. 802.11ac Wave 1 provided higher channel bandwidth and a new modulation scheme, significantly increasing the max data rates.

The Wave 2 wireless standard

Technology is always replaced and improved upon. Here, 802.11ac Wave 1 technology was replaced by today’s 802.11ac Wave 2 technology. With technologies like the Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), increased channel width and more spatial streams (SS) than ever before to make Wave 2 technology a game-changer. Even though the theoretical maximum data rate as per the Wave 2 standard is 6.9 Gbps (8SS AP), the theoretical maximum with a 4SS access point (AP) is 3.5 Gbps.

Specs802.11n802.11ac Wave 1802.11ac Wave 2
Frequency band2.4 GHz and 5 GHz5 GHz5 GHz
MIMO supportSU-MIMOSU-MIMOMU-MIMO
Max channel width40 MHz80 MHz160 MHz
Max Spatial streams448
Modulation64-QAM256-QAM256-QAM
Beamformingimplicit and explicitexplicitexplicit
Backward compatibility11a/b/g11a/b/g/n11a/b/g/n
Max data rates600 Mbps1.7 Gbps6.9 Gbps

Compare the evolution of wireless capabilities from 802.11n to today’s Wave 2 standard.

What is MU-MIMO and how is it different from SU-MIMO?

MU-MIMO is a Wave 2 technology. With Single User Multiple Input Multiple Output (SU-MIMO), the AP is able to talk to only one client at a time. However, with MU-MIMO technology the AP can now transmit up to four devices at a time in the downstream direction.

Talking to more devices in a single transmission decreases airtime, increases efficiency and delivers a better user experience. For MU-MIMO to work, both the AP and the client must support the technology. Since the 11ac Wave 2 technology is backwards-compatible, if the Wave 2 AP has to transmit to a Wave 1 device it will fall back to the Wave 1 technology and use SU-MIMO to transmit.

MU-MIMO improves wireless speed, performance

Faster data transmission with MU-MIMO improves efficiency and ensures more airtime for all clients.  802.11ac Wave 2 enhancements lead to faster data rates, providing higher throughputs, better performance and user experience.

With a 4SS AP, operating on 160MHz channel, sending data to a 3SS client device, the maximum data rate that can be achieved is 2.6 Gbps. However, this is the maximum theoretical data rate. For reference, the latest Apple MacBook Pro is a 3SS 802.11ac Wave 1 device. The MacBook Air is a 2SS 802.11ac Wave 1 device and the Galaxy S3 is a 1SS 802.11ac Wave 1 device.

Overall, MU-MIMO increases network capacity and throughput. This allows the wireless network to meet the rising demand for data-hungry applications. Since the wireless access point can talk to multiple devices at the same time, the number of devices in the queue decreases, resulting in reduced wait time and latency. Increase in the overall network capacity and reduced latency benefits not just the Wave 1 and Wave 2 devices, but also the legacy clients. More than one client is needed to take advantage of MU-MIMO.

Specs1SS2SS3SS4SS
4SS, 80MHz43386713001733
4SS, 160MHz867173326003466

Wave 2 access point data rates in Mbps with different client types.

What happens during MU-MIMO transmission?

A MU-MIMO-capable AP sends a sounding signal to the client devices in the network. Each of the clients sends back a Channel State Information (CSI) based on the information it receives from the sounding signal. The AP calculates the phase and signal strength based on the CSI it receives from each client and selects the MU-MIMO-capable devices that can be grouped in one transmission.

Does MU-MIMO rely on any external factors?

Yes, MU-MIMO relies heavily on multipath and beamforming. Multipath is the process of two or more signals reaching the client at the same time or within nanoseconds of each other. Multipath happens due to RF barriers like walls, metal surfaces and concrete that cause the signals to reflect, refract, etc. Beamforming, however, directs the signal in the direction of the client.

Is it the right time to buy 802.11ac Wave 2 or should I wait for 802.11ax?

According to multiple analyst sources, the Wi-Fi market is not slowing down. For instance, IHS forecasts 11ac Wave 2 technology to increase 12 percent annually for the next three years. There are a number of Wave 2-capable devices in the market today and this will increase in the near future.

Should you wait for 802.11ax? The answer is simple: no. You are looking at a couple of years for the full-fledged adoption of 11ax products. The standard in itself is expected to be ratified in late 2019 after which it needs to pass interoperability testing by Wi-Fi Alliance.

Once manufacturers release 11ax-capable APs that are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, mainstream adoption will occur, which is expected to be around 2020. At the same time, 11ax-capable client devices are required to reap the full benefits of the 11ax network. For the next couple of years, 11ac Wave 2 technology will remain the next-gen wireless connectivity standard.

Where can I buy Wave 2 wireless access points?

SonicWall SonicWave Wave 2 access points (432i/432e/432o 802.11ac) provide all the benefits of Wave 2 technology. You can expect superior performance and reliability with these access points. MU-MIMO technology enables SonicWave 400 series access points to transmit up to four devices at the same time.

To implement best practices in wireless networking and wireless security, download our complimentary technical brief, “SonicWall Wireless Network Security.” Learn how SonicWall wireless network security solutions can alleviate performance and security concerns, enabling you to extend your business network without jeopardizing its integrity.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Next-Generation Anti-Virus?

In previous webcasts and blogs, I’ve spoken of a woman who was the victim of a terrible ransomware attack as well as an intrusion on her computer. It was her first computer breach in over 25 years of business.

When these happened, she was running traditional anti-virus and minimal network security in front of her endpoints. These two attacks, which she believes cost her around $50,000 in damages, were alarming wakeup calls to the realities of today’s threat landscape.

One of the lessons learned by people like Elizabeth over the past three years of the ransomware age is that traditional signature-based anti-virus solutions are lacking the power to combat today’s flood of evasive malware.

This is why SonicWall is excited to launch our Capture Client, a client security solution that leverages the SentinelOne Endpoint Protection engine, powered by static and behavioral artificial intelligence, to deliver next-generation anti-virus (NGAV) capabilities.

So, what exactly is a NGAV solution, and why does it matter?

No signatures

Traditionally, anti-virus solutions (AVs) have required frequent (daily or weekly) updates of their signature databases to protect against the latest threats. Capture Client uses a static artificial intelligence (AI) engine to determine if new files are threats before they can execute. In addition, it has a behavioral AI engine to protect against file-less threats (e.g., PowerShell scripts, macros within documents, lateral movement, etc.).

No weekly updates

These AI engines do not require daily/weekly updates, as they “degrade” very gracefully over time. This is because the behavior analysis engines do the work instead of matching files to an ever-aging database of file IDs.

Even if customers upgrade their agents only once a year, they will have much greater protection than what traditional AV is able to provide. With the power of SentinelOne’s AI models, today’s zero-day attacks are instantly convicted by models developed in the past. This is the benefit of a mathematical approach to malware prevention, detection and response versus legacy, signature-based approaches.

No recurring scans

Apart from the management overhead of updating signatures, traditional AVs also recommend recurring disk scans to make sure threats did not get in. These recurring scans are a big source of frustration for the end users, as their productivity is impacted during the scans. With Capture Client, these recurring scans are not required at all. End-users get much better performance and, in many cases, do not even know or experience any slowdown caused by the AV.

No performance overhead

Another reason for the poor performance of traditional AVs is that they became bloated by implementing many features, such as endpoint firewall, full-disk encryption, etc. Many of these features are now available on modern operating systems. Capture Client was designed to orchestrate OS functionality instead of replicating it. This also translates into a much better end-user experience.

No cloud dependence

Another limitation of traditional AVs is their reliance on cloud connectivity for best protection. Signature databases have grown so large that it is no longer possible to push the entire database down to the device. So, they keep the vast majority of signatures in the cloud, and only push the most prevalent signatures down to the agent.

Furthermore, end users frequently work in cafés, airports, hotels and other commercial facilities. In most of these cases, the Wi-Fi provider is supported by ad revenues, and encourage users to download the host’s tools (i.e., adware) to get free connectivity. These tools or the Wi-Fi access point can easily block access to the AV cloud, which poses a huge security risk. Capture Client is fully autonomous and protects the user in these situations. The efficacy of the agent isn’t impacted by its connection to the internet.

NGAV for endpoints

I invite you to learn more about Capture Client, which not only provides NGAV capabilities, but also seamlessly integrates with SonicWall firewalls and related capabilities, such as DPI-SSL certificate management, firewall enforcement and firewall-independent, cloud-based reporting.

To learn more, download the “SonicWall Capture Client powered by SentinelOne” data sheet.

SonicWall Named 85th Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Numbering Authority (CNA)

SonicWall has recently been named the 85th Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Numbering Authority (CNA) by the MITRE Corporation, an international not-for-profit security institute.

What does this mean for SonicWall and the cyber security world at large? SonicWall has a new way to contribute to cyber security education and defense. The purpose of the CVE program is to provide a method and consortium for identifying vulnerabilities in a standardized manner.

SonicWall now has the authority to identify unique vulnerabilities within its products by issuing CVE IDs, publicly disclose vulnerabilities that have been newly identified, assign an ID, release vulnerability information without pre-publishing, and notify customers of other product vulnerabilities within the CNA’s program.

“This program takes us one step closer to reaching the transparency security administrators need in order to make swift and educated decisions when it comes to threat protection,” said SonicWall Chief Operating Officer Atul Dhablania in an official announcement. “SonicWall looks forward to working with MITRE in a collaborative effort to expand the arsenal of information needed to properly equip those who are being targeted or looking to strengthen their security posture.”

On a larger scale, the program is effective because an entire network of certified organizations works together, with the backing of numerous researchers and support personnel, to identify and stay ahead of emerging threats.

CVE Numbering Authorities (CNAs) are organizations that operate under the auspices of the CVE program to assign new CVE IDs to emerging vulnerabilities that affect devices and products within their scope.

The program is voluntary but the benefits are substantial, among them the opportunity to disclose a vulnerability with an already assigned CVE ID, the ability to control disclosure of vulnerability info without pre-publishing, and the notification of vulnerabilities for products within a CNAs scope by researchers who request a CVE ID from the CNA.

Becoming a part of the CVE program is a chance to not only connect to a vast network of organizations working to identify cyber threats, but also to contribute to the effort as a whole.

Top 7 Wireless Best Practices for Better Wi-Fi Coverage & User Experiences

Many of us face slow Wi-Fi and connectivity issues on wireless networks. Just the other day, I was in a café having coffee and browsing the internet. Suddenly, my connectivity dropped. I tried to reconnect, but the signal strength was too low. In the end, I gave up.

I am sure you have faced the same issue. Usually, at this point, you might blame the wireless network and question the capability of the access point (AP). But did you know often this is not the case? Mostly, the AP is not to blame. Connectivity problems arise due to improper designing and planning of the wireless network. Below are some of the best practices that you can follow to provide the best user experience from your wireless network.

  • Perform a site survey before installing access points

Before deploying your AP, it is critical you understand your environment and the type of deployment you require. Would you prefer coverage over density, or vice versa? To ensure the café scenario doesn’t happen, plan your network based on density. This ensures you are prepared for data traffic during peak hours on your wireless network.

Performing a site survey before deploying your wireless network can help with determining how many access points are required, and what type of coverage you can expect with your APs. Advanced site survey tools, such as SonicWall’s Wi-Fi Planner, will be able to predict the coverage automatically. This tool also lets you choose the coverage zones, and identifies what type of obstacles and areas are present in your location.

Wifi Planner

SonicWall’s Wi-Fi Planner uses heat maps to help you accurately design a dense, secure and reliable wireless environment.

  • Before plugging in your AP, check if it requires 802.3af or 802.3at

It is essential to check the power compliance of your AP before connecting it to your network. The maximum power from an 802.3af source is 15.4W, whereas 802.3at is 50W. If you are plugging an 802.3af-complaint AP into an 802.3at power source, make sure that your power supply is backward compatible with 802.3af devices. If not, your AP could be fried.

  • Max AP power does not mean max performance

Blasting your AP at full power does not ensure maximum performance. While it would showcase more coverage, the user experience may be impacted.

Think about two people in a room. They are in close proximity to each other, trying to have a conversation, and both of them are screaming at the top of their voices at the same time. Neither of the two would be able to understand each other and carry out a meaningful conversation. Similarly, based on your environment, it is essential to tweak the transmit power of the AP.

  • AP mounting is critical for ubiquitous coverage

APs are built to work in certain use cases or environments. For instance, an indoor, integrated-antenna AP is designed to work as a ceiling-mount AP in spaces like indoor office environments. This is because the APs with integrated, omni-directional antennas have a 360 degree radiation pattern. Much like the sun radiating rays, the omni-directional access points radiate RF signals. Barriers like walls, concrete and metal partitions can cause RF blockage.

  • Use 20 MHz or 40 MHz channels for high-density deployments

For high-density deployments, it is essential to choose lower channel widths, such as 20 MHz and 40 MHz. With 80MHz channels, there are just five non-overlapping channels, while for 160 MHz, there are only two non-overlapping channels. This makes it hard to deploy the higher channel widths without causing co-channel interference. Higher channel widths are ideal for low-density, high-performance requirements.

  • Deploy indoor APs every 60 feet for high-density deployments

APs should be deployed based upon your coverage or density requirements. For high-density, high-bandwidth requirements, deploy your APs every 60 feet. Make sure your Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) stays above -65 dBm. Up to -65 dBm is recommended for VOIP and streaming.

  • Disable lower data rates

Based on your coverage design, it is advisable to turn off lower data rates below 24 Mbps. This ensures that the AP and client do not communicate at, say, 6 Mbps, which could result in low performance and lead to a poor user experience.

To learn more about wireless networking best practices, read our solution brief, “Best Practices for Wired, Wireless and Mobile Security.”

Bad Rabbit Ransomware: The Latest Attack

What Is Bad Rabbit Ransomware?

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, a new strand of ransomware named Bad Rabbit appeared in Russia and the Ukraine and spread throughout the day. It first was found after attacking Russian media outlets and large organizations in the Ukraine, and has found its way into Western Europe and the United States. The initial installer masquerades as a Flash update but is believed to be an updated version of NotPetya, since the infection chain and component usage is identical.  Interestingly, this malware contains a list of hardcoded Windows credentials, most likely to brute force entry into devices on the network.  According to SonicWall Capture Labs Threat researchers, Bad Rabbit spreads using the SMB protocol within Windows. We should think of it as a bug fix maintenance release of NotPetya (within EternalBlue method of propagation removed). The purpose of using the SMB protocol is to spread laterally across an organization. 

Are SonicWall Customers Protected from Bad Rabbit?

Yes. SonicWall Capture Labs released signatures to protect against Bad Rabbit malware, which are available for anyone with an active Gateway Security subscription (GAV/IPS).  In addition, SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandboxing service is designed to provide real-time protection against new strains of malware, even before signatures are available on the firewall. SonicWall Capture ATP customers will be protected against new forms and copycat versions of this malware. Multiple variations of this ransomware strain have been processed in Capture ATP, with a 100 percent success rate of catching it.

How Can I Stop Ransomware Like Bad Rabbit?

SonicWall customers should immediately ensure they have the Capture Advanced Threat Protection sandbox service turned on with their next-generation firewalls, and have the Block Until Verdict feature activated.  For Bad Rabbit, there is no need to manually update the signatures on SonicWall firewalls, as they are automatically propagated to the worldwide installed base upon deployment.

General recommendations for everybody, regardless of their security vendor, include:

  • Apply all patches to operating systems
  • Protect endpoints with an up-to-date anti-virus solution
  • Promote good password hygiene policies
  • Ensure firewall and end point firmware is current
  • Implement a network sandbox to discover and mitigate new threats
  • Deploy a next-generation firewall with a gateway security subscription to stop known threats

I will update this post as analysis of Bad Rabbit ransomware develops.  For more information, read the SonicAlert posting from SonicWall Capture Labs Threat Research Team. To learn more about ransomware defense, please read our Solution Brief: Eight Ways to Protect Your Network Against Ransomware.

Are there KRACKs in Your Wireless Network Security?

Information and recommendations on protecting your wireless deployment

On October 16, 2017, Belgian security researchers made public their findings that demonstrated fundamental design flaws in WPA2 that could lead to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks on wireless networks.

Named KRACKs, or key reinstallation attacks, this technique can theoretically be used by attackers to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting wireless users leveraging these flaws in the WiFi standard. Based on their research, CERT issued a series of CVEs to address this flaw, and most vendors affected have issued patches as of this writing.

More details on these vulnerabilities are available on the researchers’ website at www.krackattacks.com.

Are SonicWall wireless solutions vulnerable?

SonicWall Capture Labs has evaluated these vulnerabilities and determined that our SonicPoint and SonicWave wireless access points, as well as our TZ and SOHO Wireless firewalls, are not vulnerable. No updates are needed for SonicWall wireless access points or firewalls with integrated wireless.

What can I do to protect my wireless network?

Whether or not you are a SonicWall wireless network security user, we do recommend that you take immediate action to minimize the risk presented by these vulnerabilities.  We advise the following:

  • Patch all of your WiFi clients, whether Windows, Linux, Android, iOS or Mac OS based, with the latest KRACK updates from your client vendors. The attack is launched by compromising the wireless device, not the wireless router, so that is the most important area to focus on when you go about patching.
  • If you are not a SonicWall wireless customer, check with your vendor to determine if you need to patch your wireless access points and/or routers. Ideally, your WiFi solution would be centrally managed allowing you to provide updates and patches in a timely fashion without crippling IT resources. Again, if you are a SonicWall wireless customer no updates to the access points are needed.
  • Add an additional layer of security by using VPN technology to encrypt all network traffic between your wireless devices and your firewall. For SonicWall customers, we recommend the following:
  • Advise your users to transmit sensitive data only on TLS/SSL-encrypted web pages. Look for the green lock symbol in the address bar along with https in the URL.
  • The new SonicWall SonicWave series includes a dedicated third radio for scanning.  For SonicWave wireless users, we recommend that you turn on the wireless intrusion detection feature that allows you to block traffic from rogue access points (specifically in this case an evil twin).  This will ensure that the third radio is continually scanning for these types of attacks in real-time.
  • Be on the lookout for unusual activity inside or outside your facility. In order to launch an attack using these vulnerabilities, an attacker must be physically located within Wi-Fi range of both the access point and the wireless client that is attempting to connect to the network. That means the attacker must be in or near your building, which makes it a bit more difficult to leverage than other Internet-only attacks.
  • One other note: there is no need to change Wi-Fi passwords as the KRACKs do not require the Wi-Fi password to be successful.

SonicWall believes that IT must be able to provide secure, high-speed access for the organization across both the wired and the wireless network, especially as Wi-Fi becomes more of a necessity and less of a luxury. However, cyber criminals are racing to leverage wireless to initiate advanced attacks.

SonicWall can help you extend breach prevention to your wireless network. SonicWall’s wireless network security solution provides deep packet inspection for both unencrypted and TLS/SSL-encrypted traffic along with a cloud-based, multi-engine Capture sandbox and a complete lineup of centrally managed SonicWave 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access points.

To learn more, visit SonicWall Wireless and Mobile Access solutions.