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Home > How To > Secure Your Wireless

How To Secure Your Wireless Network

Although wireless technology is widely used, many individuals and corporations have neglected to secure their wireless networks. Some recent reports have detailed that companies are unintentionally giving access to their data to anyone with a wireless network adapter.

Despite all of the attention being paid these days to security, and in particular wireless security, the message apparently hasn't gotten through to everyone.

Dennis Fisher eWeek.com

As wireless networks become cheaper to own and easier to set up, everyone—not just the IT professional—needs to be aware of how to secure their network. If you have an insecure wireless network at home, you could be more susceptible to hacking. Plus, hackers will often use vulnerable wireless networks to send massive amounts of spam.


There are quite a few steps that you can take to create more secure wireless connectivity in your home or business. Some of these steps are as simple as using a higher level of encryption and changing the password on your wireless access point.


Please see the following links for more information on ways to secure your wireless network:

PC Magazine's www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2420002,00.asp

ComputerWorld's Top 10 Basic Wireless Security Practices (Although this article is several years old, the tips it suggests are still valid.)

Lewis University's Security Concerns for Wireless Systems

Unfortunately, there is software available that will allow hackers to decipher your security encryption and access your network. It is a good practice to quarantine your wireless network from your physical network, so that if an attacker bypasses the wireless security, they do not have full access to your network.

SSID

Within your wireless router settings, you will need to choose a Service Set Identifier (SSID). An SSID is simply the name you give your network. It can be used to discern which network a wireless enabled computer is connected to. While not a security measure per se, you can still use your SSID to help secure your network. When configuring your router settings, consider disabling SSID Broadcast. With Broadcast disabled, your SSID should remain invisible to the average user.

When selecting an SSID, consider choosing one that might deter someone from entering your network. For instance, "PRIVATE NETWORK: GO AWAY" might be a good SSID.

It is true that hackers can still detect the SSID by capturing messages sent over the network. However, disabling SSID broadcast will make it more likely that potential intruders will forgo your home network seeking easier targets elsewhere.

Also, it is not a good idea to put any information in your SSID that could be used to identify you, like your name or address. Choose something completely non-specific.

Additional Security

A wireless network is vulnerable to attack from the moment it is turned on, to the moment it is turned off. Many home users leave their wireless networks running 24 hours a day. By using a simple timer, you can cut your vulnerability in half. If you are at home for only 12 hours a day, consider using a timer to automatically turn off your network during the hours you are at work. For example, you could set your timer to turn off your network at 8:00 am and turn back on at 8:00 pm, when you've returned home from work. You've just reduced the time your network is vulnerable by 50 percent!

Key to Wi-Fi Security
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