As Los Angeles RIAs conduct business remotely, wireless network security is a big priority. Transmitting confidential client data over public Wi-Fi networks could spell disaster for a financial advisor.
Cyber-criminals and other unauthorized users can potentially spy on transmissions and access client data. Should this happen, investigations and penalties from the SEC, FINRA, and other regulatory bodies will follow.
Below are three tips that will improve wireless network security at financial services companies, so that the benefits of mobility don’t have to be compromised by the threat of exposure.
1. Use Encryption
The most effective way to secure a wireless network is to use WPA2 encryption for all communications. Encryption uses mathematical algorithms to scramble network traffic, preventing intruders from intercepting the content.
Never use a universal encryption key, which is a single password shared by all employees. This works on home networks but is too risky in a business setting. Set up enterprise-level encryption, which allows employees to access the network by using the login details for their computers, email, and other company resources.
2. Do Not Broadcast Your SSID
Most wireless routers automatically broadcast their SSID (Service Set Identifier). This allows for the Wi-Fi network to be dynamically discovered. Knowing your SSID makes it easier for a hacker to gain access.
Once your desktop and mobile devices are properly configured on the wireless network with the correct SSID, there’s no need to broadcast it. While this technique is not completely fool-proof as hackers can detect your SSID by “sniffing” messages in your Wi-Fi protocol, disabling this feature makes you a less of a target.
3. Monitor for Rogue Access Points
Tech-savvy employees, annoyed by the network’s coverage boundaries or security controls, can easily acquire a wireless access point (AP) and connect it to a wired network. The resulting ‘private’ network may not be secured to company standards, and the firm’s IT staff can have a hard time detecting the devices connected to it.
Scans for rogue access points should be a key part of wireless network security. There are also intrusion prevention systems that monitor an office and alert tech personnel to the presence of unauthorized wireless networks.
Wireless networking has changed the way that Los Angeles RIAs interact with the firm’s resources. Nowadays, it’s common for employees to do their jobs without ever connecting to a wired network. Therefore, it is essential for the tech personnel responsible for the firm’s IT structure to develop secure systems that prevent intrusion while allowing business requirements.
Has your firm been forced to spend more money and resources on wireless network security? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, Investing in High Net Worth Clients: The LA Investment Advisor's Guide to Using Technology to Manage and Grow Your Firm.