Wi-Fi Security Threats Building Owners Cannot Ignore

We were recently awarded patent number 9,544,831 for our UserSafe® client isolation technology which relates to level of security that our wireless networks provide. Our engineers developed UserSafe® technology in response to the growing security threats to the public posed by Wi-Fi networks. Our goal was to develop a gold standard for wireless network security in the multifamily industry that would both guard users from threats that can occur over Wi-Fi and protect building owners and staff by allowing them to securely use Wi-Fi for internal operations.

The need for wireless in the multifamily industry is unprecedented. To remain competitive building owners must provide a level of wireless service to residents whether that be as an amenity in the common areas, as a property-wide utility or as a voice coverage option (Wi-Fi calling). In addition, property management companies and building owners are utilizing back-office applications that need to function over Wi-Fi, yet remain secure and separate from resident use. Finally, residential buildings in high-traffic urban areas are seeing a high number of outside device attempting to attach to their private network due to foot traffic. Devices needing wireless support or attempting to attach to the network (as in urban foot traffic) create a high-risk scenario when it comes to network security.

The Danger of Wi-Fi “Hotspots”

Unsecured Wi-Fi presents threats that building owners cannot ignore.  The typical Wi-Fi “Hotspot” does not offer UserSafe® technology and leaves residents vulnerable to hacking, spoofing and identity theft Password protection and encryption only put a minimal barrier at one Point of Entry (“POE”) and are simplistic and ineffectual methods of network security. A community-wide Wi-Fi network will contain thousands of potential POE where malicious activity can occur. Entry points on a network are not limited to user devices and include all equipment points throughout the entire network build.

Wi-Fi threats that place residents and the property at risk include:

·       Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Hackers intercept data packets traveling between devices. A hacker can literally see the data you transmit over Wi-Fi.

·       Pack Sniffers: programs that can intercept data packages or simply monitor network traffic

·       Rogue Access Points: Aps tacked onto a network that are not properly configured without the network’s knowledge

·       Worms: Can jump from device to device over a Wi-Fi network

·       There are many other attacks in addition to the above that can occur over a standard Wi-Fi network. For a complete list: https://www.examcollection.com/certification-training/security-plus-wireless-attacks-and-their-types.html

The UserSafe® Solution

UserSafe®  technology adds another level of security by utilizing client isolation technology to make ever client device invisible to other devices on a specific Virtual Local Area Network (“VLAN”). A device can only communicate with the internet, it cannot communicate with or see, other devices. If a device cannot be seen, it cannot be hacked. UserSafe® also allows for secure back-office device-to-device communications that occur separately and safely from residential use on a different VLAN so property-staff can securely and safely communicate separately from the residents while being on the same physical network. UserSafe® technology secures the entire network. Where a password only offers a simplistic barrier at one POE, UserSafe® occurs at ALL vulnerable entry points across all network equipment. 

Network Management Further Compliments Network Security

The case for proper network management as an essential component of Wi-Fi networking in the multifamily space is even stronger when considering various Wi-Fi threats. Threats such as rogue access points are mitigated simply by having a locked down, managed Wi-Fi network. These networks, due to the sensitive nature of data transmitted from what is a “home” network for residents needs 24/7 monitoring to ensure the integrity and health of network equipment sitting on the network.

Educating Residents and Property Staff

Due to the nature of data transmitted from a multifamily property, it is essential that residents and property staff are educated to understand certain points:

1.     Over a UserSafe®  Wi-Fi network, the transmission of personal data, banking, shopping, etc. are safe and secure – your data cannot be seen or intercepted

2.     Traditional hotspots or non- UserSafe®  Wi-Fi networks are NOT safe for the transmission of personal data whether they are public, multifamily or utilize password protection/ encryption

3.     Asking for a password or claiming encryption DOES NOT make a Wi-Fi network secure

4.     Due to the thousands of potential entry points used in a community-wide Wi-Fi network there are thousands of opportunities for malicious activity – currently there is no other standard for Wi-Fi security recognized by the U.S. patent office other than UserSafe®.

5. Attaching to a Wi-Fi network that is not UserSafe® purely to utilize VoWiFi (Voice over Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi Calling) will leave you vulnerable and visible to hacking and identity theft

For more information about UserSafe® Technology or the security of your multifamily Wi-Fi network, please contact: Jessica DaSilva, Sr. Director of Marketing and Sales, Spot On Networks 203-523-5210 or InMessage.