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Wireless 'most vulnerable' part of network, says survey

Fortinet survey reveals concern over wireless security among IT decision makers

49% of respondents ranked wireless networks as the most exposed from a security standpoint
49% of respondents ranked wireless networks as the most exposed from a security standpoint

IT decision makers believe that wireless networks constitute the most vulnerable elements to the IT infrastructure, according to a new survey from cyber-security vendor Fortinet.

Fortinet said that 49% of respondents ranked wireless networks as the most exposed from a security standpoint, in contrast to the 29% who said that the core network was the most exposed. The survey also showed that insufficient wireless security is becoming a concern for almost every CIO, with 92% saying that they were concerned about this.

Fortinet said that this was hardly surprising, citing evidence saying that one in three enterprise wireless networks put in place for internal employees do not have the basic security function of authentication in place.

"The survey findings indicate that despite the growth in mobility strategies, wireless security has simply not been a priority for enterprises to date," said John Maddison, vice president of marketing products at Fortinet.

"As advanced persistent attacks increasingly target multiple entry points, and the cloud becomes more prevalent, it's not an oversight organisations should risk any longer."

When considering the future direction of their wireless security strategies, the majority of respondents said they would maintain focus on the most common security features, firewall and authentication. However, the survey also showed that demand for more security is emerging with 23% prioritising complementary technologies - such as IPS, anti-virus, application control and URL filtering - to guard against the full extent of the threat landscape.  

When asked to cite the risks of operating an unsecured wireless network, 48% of respondents considered loss of sensitive corporate and/or customer data as the biggest risk to their organisation. This was highest at 56% in APAC, in contrast to the Americas at 45% and EMEA 42%.

The next highest risk, industrial espionage, was cited by just 22% of respondents, followed by non-compliance to industry regulations (13%), with service interruption and damage to corporate reputation ranked equal last (9%).

"It's positive to see IT Leaders beginning to recognize the role wireless security plays in protecting their critical business assets, yet there is more to be done," said Maddison.

"As IT strives to balance the need for strong network security with ubiquitous connectivity, wireless must be considered as part of a holistic security strategy to ensure broad and consistent protection for users and devices over wired and wireless access."

The findings come from an independent survey of over 1,490 IT decision makers at 250-plus employee organisations around the world. All respondents were sourced from independent market research company Lightspeed GMI's online panel.