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IEEE group advocates random MAC addresses for Wi-Fi security

An IEEE group advocates random MAC addresses for increased Wi-Fi security, while networking pros say enterprise security isn't strong enough for moving applications to the cloud.

In telecom news, an IEEE study group recommends updating Wi-Fi standards to randomly assign MAC addresses to improve security and make it more difficult to track mobile users.

A survey showed cloud use is growing but cloud security is not. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has formed a Cybersecurity Leadership Council to try to improve the nation's cybersecurity policy.

IEEE group recommends random MAC addresses for Wi-Fi security

An IEEE study group has recommended updating the Wi-Fi protocol to provide better security and privacy by using randomly generated addresses, CSO Online reported. The current 802.11 Wi-Fi standards are designed to give each mobile device its own media access control (MAC) address, which allows it to be tracked.

The working group hopes to build randomly generated addresses into the next Wi-Fi upgrade, 802.11ax, or even later, but that effort could take years.

The chairman of the IEEE 802 privacy study group said it could take years to generate addresses into the upgrade. Building randomly generated MAC addresses into Wi-Fi standards would have to be done in hardware or in the operating system in newer mobile devices.

In the meantime, manufacturers could design devices to generate random identifiers until the standards catch up. The working group said it successfully trialed the random MAC address approach at three meetings.

Network execs believe cloud security lacking

A recent IDG Research survey of 100 network executives showed that the majority believe current security measures aren't enough to protect applications moving to the cloud, according to TheVAR Guy.com. The survey was conducted by IDG with cloud-security firm CloudPassage.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said security is the number one barrier slowing the transition to the cloud, while a full 80% said traditional network security applications don't work well in cloud environments. Seventy-six percent of respondents said their organizations don't have good visibility into attacks using traditional security in cloud environments.

Currently, 33% of customer data is in the cloud, respondents said, with 11% on the public cloud. Within 18 months, half of all customer data will be in the cloud, with nearly 20% in public clouds, they said.

Survey respondents believe the increase in cloud use will require better security. Forty-five percent said that move to the cloud has made visibility into security more difficult.

Chamber of Commerce announces new Cybersecurity Leadership Council

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has formed a Cybersecurity Leadership Council, a move that follows a February executive order issued by President Obama designed to promote cybersecurity information sharing.

The new council's goal is to push for more public- and private-sector collaboration and promote best practices to reduce the risk of cyberattacks, according to the Federal Times.

More than 20 businesses and industry associations have joined the effort, including CTIA-The Wireless Association, US Telecom Association, National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Juniper Networks.

Obama's executive order, designed to encourage private sector companies to share cybersecurity information through the federal government, did not set out an exact structure but encourages organizations to adopt voluntary standards.

In an effort to have private industry take the lead, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the Cybersecurity Council will help promote collaboration between government and the private sector to improve cybersecurity policy.

Next Steps

Government cybersecurity struggles

How to prevent cloud security issues

How to secure your Wi-Fi deployment

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Wait, stop, hold the phone.  I remember in college being told that there was NEVER a guarantee that there would never be a collision in MAC addresses on a very large network.  The odds may have made ot unlikely at that time, but I fail to see how randomly assigned mac addresses fix this problem at all.

Now the side effect of what they suggest, the idea that every device has to be registered and approved before use, could improve security, but it would do so at the expense of early usability.
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