Blogger: Eric Maiwald
It is Catalyst time again – it seems like just the other day we were holding Catalyst North America in San Diego. This week Burton Group is hosting Catalyst Europe in Prague. The security service does not have a track on the first day of the conference so I attended the Planning for Pervasive Mobility track (I also had a talk to give in this track so it made a lot of sense for me to be there!).
It seems that mobility is important for enterprises and employees and wireless technology is improving to help us be more mobile. Paul Debeasi (Burton Group Senior Analyst in the Network and Telecom Service) talked about 802.11n and how it is good enough to be used as an Ethernet replacement. You can see what he wrote about 802.11n in the NTS blog. Dan McCarriar from Carnegie Mellon University talked about their deployment of 802.11n so it is not just a standard that will generate products sometime in the future.
As enterprises begin to include more wireless networks instead of wired Ethernet, there will be additional security concerns that will need to be addressed. This could be everything from an increased use of VPN technology to the deployment of wireless intrusion detection (WIPS) to detect rogue access points and track down sources of wireless interference. Increased use of WLANs may also spur the use of network admission control (NAC) as we have seen more use of 802.1X on wireless than on wired networks.
Another change that we will need to pay attention to is the increased use of employee-owned devices on these networks. Employees (and students in the case of CMU) are increasingly interested in using their own devices (including smartphones) for work. It may not matter what controls we decide to put on endpoints if the enterprise does not own the endpoint. The ramifications of mobility do not end with security – applications will need to change to be more useful on the employee devices. Applications may also need to change to keep sensitive information off of the end point.
Lots of changes are coming and security folks will need to be able to advice enterprises about working in the new environments.