Wi-Fi hacking is a hot topic, but one that’s plagued by ambiguous and often contradictory technical terminology. Luckily, the lack of common definitions for Wi-Fi threat vectors has actually produced a solution to the problem: the Trusted Wireless Environment. The Trusted Wireless Environment framework succinctly defines the six Layer 2 Wi-Fi hacks that affect nearly every business today and provides a simple test criterion to determine if a Wi-Fi network is protected from each type of attack.
Wi-Fi professionals at Miercom, a global, independent security and performance testing laboratory, recently tested Cisco Meraki’s MR33 access point (AP) to determine if it could automatically detect and prevent the six known Wi-Fi threats. The MR33 was only able to automatically detect one of the six threats – the Evil Twin AP – and failed to automatically detect the other five. The MR33 also failed to automatically prevent all six threats. These results are likely not surprising to Wi-Fi security researchers and enthusiasts who have witnessed the Wi-Fi industry consistently deprioritize security protection in Wi-Fi products in favor of improving speed, capacity, and network efficiency.
Having been exposed to the Trusted Wireless Environment in the past, Miercom test professionals recognized that WatchGuard has been gearing its cloud-managed AP roadmap with unique security feature sets. To determine how existing Cisco Meraki networks can become Trusted Wireless Environment compliant, Miercom configured a WatchGuard AP125 AP as a security sensor dedicated to protecting the Meraki MR33 from the six known Wi-Fi threats. The results show that Meraki Wi-Fi networks that would’ve been vulnerable to the six Wi-Fi threats are 100% protected once a WatchGuard AP125 APs was added. From a deployment perspective, network and security administrators will find a simple solution where the Meraki APs continue to connect Wi-Fi users as usual and the WatchGuard APs act as a sort of Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS) sentry, constantly monitoring the air space and wired network for presence of any of the six threats.
If they’re as curious as I am, Meraki Wi-Fi network administrators have probably been banging their heads against their desks trying to understand how Air Marshal (the WIPS solution included with most Meraki APs) functions in a live network. For many of us, we tend to feel nervous about enabling the Air Marshal containment feature and often disable it completely after reading the warning message from Cisco:
Rest assured Meraki administrators! You can disable Air Marshal completely and safely offload WIPS to WatchGuard APs, which are designed specifically to plug the serious security gaps in the Wi-Fi attack surface.
Those interested in testing their own Meraki Wi-Fi networks for Trusted Wireless Environment compliance can follow the Trusted Wireless Environment test guide, and contact Miercom via their website for a more thorough test involving live client workloads. Lastly, if you’re wondering how many WatchGuard APs you need to add to your existing Meraki Wi-Fi network to protect it, any WatchGuard reseller near you has access to a professional service from WatchGuard that will provide you with a predictive simulation survey that determines the recommended number of WatchGuard APs, installation locations, and WIPS/Wi-Fi coverage range.
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