UPS delivers security in its wireless network

According to United Parcel Service Inc. officials, they operate the world's largest wireless network to support the company's hubs and stations. They consider this network so critical to daily operations that they apply wireless security from the top down.

Joe Lawless, UPS' department manager for global network system design, said officials at the company, based in Atlanta, have centralized configuration management of 7,000 Wi-Fi access points used in their domestic hubs, sorting stations and offices. Their management system ensures rogue access points are not connected to the network.

These access points eventually will support the use of 50,000 wireless terminals equipped with bar code scanners, which help UPS employees manage sorting operations. UPS officials have moved well behind the lowest level of Wi-Fi security, the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), to ensure that only authorized devices can communicate with the company's wireless network, Lawless said.

WEP is flawed because it uses static keys to protect data, so UPS officials adopted a product called KeyGuard from Symbol Technologies Inc., which changes keys on a per packet basis, Lawless said. This method ensures that even if hackers capture one key, the rapid rotation of keys will not allow them to cause significant damage.

UPS officials also try to limit signal spillage beyond their property to deter hackers who attempt to sniff out networks with high-gain antennas. "We try to keep in mind that someone might be out there with a high-gain antenna" when setting Wi-Fi power levels, Lawless said.

Company officials also have decided to bolster their Wi-Fi security with sensor technology that can detect the presence of rogue access points or hackers attempting to penetrate the network, he said. They have placed a bid for the technology.

Finally, physical security plays an important role in Wi-Fi security, Lawless said. UPS security guards routinely check facilities' perimeters for potential Wi-Fi hackers. Although it's expensive to install a Wi-Fi sensing system and perform perimeter sweeps at 400 domestic locations, he said, "it's better than the alternative: a 'CNN moment.' That's when find out you have a problem by seeing it on TV first."

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by wk1003mike): cloud system fracture.

    Does the IRS have a cloud strategy?

    Congress and watchdog agencies have dinged the IRS for lacking an enterprise cloud strategy seven years after it became the official policy of the U.S. government.

  • Shutterstock image: illuminated connections between devices.

    Who won what in EIS

    The General Services Administration posted detailed data on how the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract might be divvied up.

  • Wikimedia Image: U.S. Cyber Command logo.

    Trump elevates CyberCom to combatant command status

    The White House announced a long-planned move to elevate Cyber Command to the status of a full combatant command.

  • Photo credit: John Roman Images / Shutterstock.com

    Verizon plans FirstNet rival

    Verizon says it will carve a dedicated network out of its extensive national 4G LTE network for first responders, in competition with FirstNet.

  • AI concept art

    Can AI tools replace feds?

    The Heritage Foundation is recommending that hundreds of thousands of federal jobs be replaced by automation as part of a larger government reorganization strategy.

  • DOD Common Access Cards

    DOD pushes toward CAC replacement

    Defense officials hope the Common Access Card's days are numbered as they continue to test new identity management solutions.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group