Securing Wi-Fi networks through protocols like WEP, WPA, and WPA-2 with password protection is standard practice. Both home networks and those used by corporatess in their offices rely on user passwords to secure their Wi-Fi network and prevent unauthorized access.
However, passwords alone do not provide adequate security, as they can be easily compromised. In fact, hacking a password-protected Wi-Fi doesn’t even require sophisticated techniques or tools most of the time. Instead, hackers often use simple manipulative techniques to obtain passwords from individuals who have access to it. Additionally, even if the password is not hacked, someone to whom access was granted may willingly share it with another person, allowing unauthorized individuals to connect to the network without the owner’s knowledge.
The biggest weakness of password-protected Wi-Fi is that it is only secure if people do not know the password. Now for businesses, the security of their Wi-Fi network is critical. Unlike a home network, a company’s Wi-Fi network contains sensitive information that, if compromised, can pose significant security risks and negatively impact the business. Fortunately, there is a more effective method of protecting Wi-Fi networks that do not rely on user passwords. This technique is called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), and it allows for configuring a highly secure Wi-Fi network where access is granted only to specific devices through digital certificates.
So how does PKI work? And what exactly are digital certificates?
Read on as we answer these questions and explain why protecting your company’s Wi-Fi network with PKI is a lot more secure and beneficial than using user passwords.
What is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), and how does it protect Wi-Fi networks?
Public Key Infrastructure is a security system for encrypting and decrypting networks. It can be used to secure different types of digital communication systems, including web servers, user devices, and of course, Wi-Fi networks as well. PKI uses asymmetric encryption, where two types of keys are involved – a private key kept securely by the owner of the wireless network and a public key given to users to whom access is granted.
When you secure your wireless network with PKI, you install digital certificates on the devices of users to whom you want to access the network. This digital certificate serves as the public key that lets them connect to your network.
So what exactly is a digital certificate? It’s a type of electronic document that validates the identity of the user’s device. Or, in simpler words, it’s a certificate proving that the device trying to connect to your network is the same one you have granted access to. That means when you implement this infrastructure, only those devices where you have installed the digital certificates can connect to your network.
Not only does this remove the hassle of user passwords, it also ensures that no other unauthorised user can access your Wi-Fi unless the network owner authorises their device by installing a digital certificate. This system is extremely efficient for businesses and organizations because they can secure their networks, setting up the certificates in only the office devices of their employees.
The benefits of device-based security certification with PKI
The use of Public Key Infrastructure for wireless networks has many benefits over traditional password-protected systems, such as:
Less Bandwidth Choking
Bandwidth choking is the slowing down of a network’s connectivity due to excessive bandwidth usage.
With password-protected Wi-Fi, the system has to authenticate a device every time it connects to the network. This authentication process uses up some of the network’s available bandwidth. In busy networks, like those used in corporate offices, since multiple employees and staffs connect to the network, authenticating each of their devices will consume a significant amount of the network’s bandwidth, slowing down the connection.
However, with PKI, the digital certificate of a user’s device is only authenticated the first time by the system. After this initial authentication, the system recognizes the certificate and allows it to connect directly from there onwards. Since repeated authentication is not required with PKI, it doesn’t consume additional bandwidth, so the connection is faster and smoother.
Saves time for admins to troubleshoot
As discussed in the previous point, since user devices do not require repeated authentication with PKI, it reduces the possibility of login issues. Also, the digital certificate of every device serves as its unique identification. So admins can track which devices are connected to the network, which helps them troubleshoot and resolve security issues quickly and easily.
Highly secure compared to passwords
With PKI, only devices where the owner installs unique digital certificates can access the network. That means even an authorized user cannot connect to the Wi-Fi if they try with another new device. There is no risks of passwords being compromised, or users willingly sharing passwords with other people. Hackers and cyber attackers are helpless because social engineering techniques and fraudulent manipulations will no longer be useful. The only risk is if an authorized device is stolen, but even then, the network admins can easily disable the digital certificate of that particular device in no time. PKI offers all-round protection and extremely tight security for your Wi-Fi network.
Say goodbye to password changes
One common security advice we hear regarding Wi-Fi connections is changing the password from time to time. But without a password protection system, you also don’t need to worry about changing the password on a regular basis. With PKI, you can just set the system and the digital certificates once, and then forget about having to change anything again.
Seamless roaming between access points
In case of large networks with multiple access points (APs) to increase the range, switching from one AP to another with password-protected Wi-Fi can be a hassle. Users may also require to enter the password again when they jump between APs. On the other hand, PKI facilitates devices to switch to the nearest AP without interruptions in connectivity automatically. Users can move around the premises with their device and won’t even notice when their device jumps from one AP to another. So they can enjoy a smooth connection everywhere within the range of the network.
Increased network efficiency and robustness
To sum up all the points above: No more repeated authentication and seamless AP roaming mean that the Wi-Fi connection will always be fast and smooth. Admins don’t need to spend much time troubleshooting. And most importantly, the network becomes highly secure.
As a result, the network’s overall efficiency and robustness also increase significantly, especially when compared to password-protected Wi-Fi networks.
The Bottom Line
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is changing the way companies and businesses secure their wireless networks. And even among its many benefits, the most important factor is that of security. Even tech giants like Twilio had their system hacked not too long ago. How? The hackers used phishing attacks to trick employees into sharing their login credentials
This goes to show how vulnerable user password-based systems are and further highlights the importance of switching to a device-based security certificate system. With PKI and the application of digital certificates, you can effectively protect your company from such vulnerabilities and security risks while enjoying faster, uninterrupted connectivity.
For more details on you can implement PKI within your infrastructure: https://eilglobal.com.au/contact-us/