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What are the best methods for handling rogue access points?

Our network security expert, Michael Gregg, explains how to enforce network policy and handle rogue access points (APs) in this expert response.

What are the best methods of dealing with rogue access points (APs)? Can you suggest a small-scale business network with rogue access points?
There are several potential problems with allowing end users to add wireless or other devices to the company network without approval. One big one is they may not employ the proper security measures. There is also the issue of maintaining control of the organizations infrastructure.

For the smaller organization there are several layers of control that can be built in to reduce the rogue wireless threat. The first place to start is with policy. All employees should know the rules regarding wireless and what can and cannot be plugged into the network.

Policy enforcement will be easier if you have managed switches. You can disable unused ports and start restricting down active ones by MAC address filtering.

Next, find some tools that will let you scan for rogue access points. There are commercial tools that will do this such as AirMagnet and AirDefense, and if your budget is tight you might want to try an open source tools such as RogueScanner.

Finally, don't be shy about using tools like NetStumbler and other site survey tools to identify access points and verify their legitimacy.

This question was also answered by our wireless networking expert, Lisa Phifer. Read her response to this question: Monitoring your network to detect rogue access points.

This was last published in May 2008

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