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4 Ways the WhatsApp Exploit Could Use Employees to Infiltrate Your Network

The recent WhatsApp breach was very sophisticated and clever in the manner it was delivered. And that should be expected considering who was reported as being behind the zero-day attack against the popular messaging application.

But the attack against the WhatsApp app is not just a concern for its millions of global customers. There’s a very real and imminent threat to businesses and enterprises, too.

For example, let’s assume one of your employees has WhatsApp installed on their device and it is subsequently compromised via the latest WhatsApp exploit. In many situations, this employee will, at some point, connect their device to the corporate network.

This legitimate access could be via VPN, cloud applications (e.g., Office 365, Dropbox, etc.), corporate Wi-Fi or, my personal “favorite,” plugging the device into the USB port of a corporate laptop so the phone can charge. Understanding how and where users connect to the corporate network is critical.

In most cases, organizations can’t prevent personal BYOD phones from being compromised — particularly when outside the network perimeter. They can, however, protect the network from exploits delivered via the compromised phone. Here are the four most common ways the WhatsApp vulnerability could be leveraged to infiltrate a corporate network and, more importantly, how SonicWall can prevent it:

  1. Via VPN. If an employee connects to corporate over VPN, SonicWall, for example, would be the endpoint where they establish the VPN Threat prevention (e.g., firewalls, Capture ATP) and access control (e.g., Secure Mobile Access) would prevent the WhatsApp breach from spreading any further than the compromised phone.
  2. Via Wi-Fi. In this scenario, next-generation firewalls and secure wireless access points should be in place to inspect all internal traffic and prevent the exploit from going further than the phone.
  3. Via compromised credentials. Because the WhatsApp exploit enabled attackers to steal credentials to cloud services and apps, organizations with Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) solutions, like SonicWall Cloud App Security, would mitigate account takeovers (ATO), unauthorized access and any related data leakage.
  4. Via USB port. Users often forget that a powered USB port on their laptop is an entry point for attackers — even when doing something as innocent as charging a phone. A sound endpoint protection solution (see diagram), such as Capture Client, would monitor the connection to the laptop and inspect any malicious activity attempting to leverage the USB port to deliver malware payloads.

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.”

Wireless Security: Why You Need to Take It Seriously In 2018

When waves of cyber attacks hit last year, such as WannaCry and Not Petya ransomwares, businesses lost billions of dollars in high-profile breaches. In addition, more than half of the U.S. population’s Social Security information was compromised in the Equifax breach. It was a record-breaking year.

Perhaps the only good that came out of these fiascos is that users became more aware of the importance of cyber security. But it is no longer sufficient to only care about wired network security. Organizations and businesses also have to pay attention to other aspects of security, such as physical security and wireless security.

In line with multiple cyber security forecasts, such as our 8 Cyber Security Predictions for 2018, organizations need to watch out for more sophisticated attacks in 2018. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, more than 9 billion wireless devices will be used in 2018. Gartner forecasts connected devices to rise from 11 billion in 2018 to over 20 billion by 2020. With the proliferation of wireless-enabled and IoT devices, wireless network security is vital.

However, not all wireless security solutions are equal. Last year, for example, many dealt with KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack), which leveraged a WPA2 vulnerability that could lead to man-in-the-middle attacks. While many wireless vendors suffered this vulnerability, SonicWall wireless access points were not vulnerable.

How do I choose a wireless security solution?

It can be easy to get drawn in by sales pitches that show you pretty dashboards, features that you don’t need or seldom use, or super-expensive gear that you pay a premium for just because of the brand name.

Instead, take a step back and think of what you really should care about: a Wi-Fi connection that actually works with unfaltering security. Make sure you are committing yourself to a vendor that takes security, user experience and reliability very seriously.

How can I make my Wi-Fi secure?

Organizations, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) and individual users can implement cyber security best practices to drastically reduce Wi-Fi vulnerabilities.

  • First and foremost, make sure that you are not broadcasting an open SSID (how others see and connect to your wireless network)
  • Adjust the transmit power on your access points to serve just the area of coverage that is required
  • For corporate networks, separate guest users from internal users
  • Turn on rogue detection and ensure that firewall settings, such as DPI-SSL/TLS are enabled on your network
  • To further improve security, add a firewall to your network

Wireless is an overlay to your wired network. Adding a firewall with an integrated wireless controller capability to your network will further enhance the security of your entire network. The benefits of adding such a firewall include:

  • Complete management of wireless and wired infrastructure
  • Granular application identification, control and visualization
  • Discover and block advanced threats and vulnerabilities
  • Improved security posture and performance that scale to your business requirements

Though there are many wireless security features that can enhance your wireless security, some are more critical than others. Basic functionalities like Wireless Intrusion Detection System (WIDS) and Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS) must be supported across wired and wireless infrastructure.

Others cyber security capabilities, like application control, content filtering and deep-packet inspection (DPI) even over encrypted traffic, are all essential.

Adding multi-layered security protection to your overall network infrastructure will help minimize network breach success. In order to support the next-generation mobile workforce, BYOD and ability to implement wireless guest services is significant. Site tools can be used to survey wireless signals to optimize the required area of coverage.

These wireless security capabilities, coupled with single-pane-of-glass management, makes it effective and efficient for network admins to have visibility into the network and detect threats on a real-time basis.

Should I buy a SonicWall wireless access point?

SonicWall is a pioneering leader in cyber security, providing seamless security and comprehensive breach detection across wired, wireless, cloud and mobile networks. Best-in-class security latest 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, and an attractive price point make SonicWave wireless access point solutions a sound choice for organizations of all sizes and industries.

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SonicWave wireless access points come in three options:

  • SonicWave 432i (internal antenna version)
  • SonicWave 432e (external antenna version)
  • SonicWave 432o (outdoor access point)

The SonicWave 432 Series comes with a built-in third radio for dedicated security scanning. While many companies provide security and wireless products, SonicWall offers a true end-to-end secure wireless solution.

Need more information about wireless access security? Read our executive brief, “Why You Need Complete Wireless and Mobile Access Security.” Together, let’s make sure your network is ready to face these challenges, and create a fail-proof network for a secure, next-generation user experience.

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.

Six Steps to Securing WiFi in a Small Business

In my job at SonicWall, I talk to a lot of people about IT security. One thing I hear a lot of the time from small business owners is something along the lines of “Why would anybody target me? I am just a small company. They would much rather go after big companies.” While this is very true for highly targeted attacks, where a highly motivated and funded attacker is going after a well-known entity, it is simply not true for the majority of attacks which are much more opportunistic in nature.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you own a local insurance agency in a retail complex. You rely heavily on your computer system to connect to the insurance company and share information about the policies that you need to write. In the business, we call that “private customer information” and it is what you need to protect. Now, let’s assume you have a broadband connection and a consultant who has helped install and maintain your network including the security component. So far, so good.

Next, you decide you would like to add WiFi to your network so you and clients can connect more easily. You decide to go down to the local box store and purchase an off the shelf consumer class wireless access point and connect it to an open port in your office. You skip quickly through the startup menu choosing “quick start” and are up and running in a few minutes. Great, right? Not so fast. Most likely some of the steps you skipped over had to do with securing the wireless traffic, but that is difficult and requires some thought so you decided to do it later, which never happened.

At this point, you have a very secure wired network and an unsecured wireless network. Now, next door is a fast food restaurant with a lot of teenage kids who rotate in and out based on the season. One of them happens to be a wanna-be hacker, who notices a wide open wireless network and decides to investigate. She finds that she can connect to the wireless network and not only get wireless access, but also see the files on your computer, because you allow file sharing! And worse, she can see the private customer information that is so important to not only your local agency but also the nationwide company. And in a fit of teenage rebellion or altruism, she decides to download the customer data and then sends it to the nationwide agency to show them that one of their agents is not being responsible with their customer’s data. That is known as white hat hacking, and she is actually doing your insurance company a favor. Imagine if a neighbor with less noble intentions had been able to extract the data.

This is just an example, illustrating why wireless security is so important. Here are some tips to help you keep this fictional scenario from becoming a reality.

  1. Utilize a firewall with integrated wireless security that simplifies the implementation of wireless network security.
  2. Leverage deep packet inspection on the firewall to scan all traffic to and from the wireless users’ computers for viruses, malware and intrusions that may have been brought in from the outside.
  3. Since many websites are now leveraging SSL encryption to protect user data, make sure that your wireless network security solution can decrypt and scan encrypted traffic.
  4. Look for wireless network security solutions with wireless intrusion detection and prevention to block rogue access points and minimize the disruption from denial of service attacks.
  5. Apply application control to block unauthorized applications from being used on the wireless network.
  6. Set up a secure wireless guest network with encryption for your guests if you want to allow your customers to use WiFi in the lobby or conference rooms.

This is just one hypothetical example of what can happen if you don’t take security seriously. To learn more about wireless security, here is a quick and easy infographic with more information on this important topic.

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