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Protect Yourself Against Rogue Wireless Access Points

"It gives access to the company network, and that can be a problem," Daley says. "But they're not usually as big a problem as they used to be. In the early days of wireless networking, they used to be much more common, but with the wide adoption of wireless, users are less motivated [to use] these kinds of unauthorized APs."

The other kind of rogue is the decoy or "evil twin" AP. Some digital miscreant sets up an AP of his own with a service set identifier that makes it look like it's a company access point. This certainly is malicious and though it doesn't give access to your network, it can give someone else access to your company secrets. Users confident that they're logging into the company site could unwittingly give away everything from passwords to corporate information.

The way you find rogue APs of either variety is to sniff them out. This can be a process as simple as popping open your laptop and seeing if something is suspicious in the available networks dialog box or investing in overlay systems to continually sniff the air for rogue SSIDs.

"The good news is that legitimate enterprise APs now have a built-in feature to intermittently sniff the air for rogues, so you don't necessarily need overlay equipment," Daley says. "That's pretty good for 90% of rogue situations. Most organizations are pretty good about sniffing the air and comparing MAC addresses with a database of authorized APs."

On the other hand, it wasn't always that way. Though self-sniffing APs are now the rule rather than the exception, there's a possibility that any company that invested in wireless networking back in the old says of even a couple of years ago can't count on that kind of protection.

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