Wireless Security Initial Concepts

Wireless security is an important part of your wireless network Without even getting Wireless Security into wired Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) there are certain things you can do to make your network secure and shut down the easy avenue for the hacker attacks.

An acronym for Wired Equivalent Privacy, WEP is an encryption scheme used to protect your wireless data communications.

WEP uses a combination of 40-bit keys to provide access control to your network and encryption security for every data transmission. To decode a data transmission, each wireless client on the network must use an identical 64 or 128-bit key.

Securing Wireless Networks

Ever since 2001, the use of wireless networks has exploded both in home and corporate environments. By 2006, more than 80 millions wireless local area network (WLAN) nodes should be in the hands of residential and business users combined.

Securing WLANs has been a concern almost since their inception and while much progress has been made with the introduction of WEP and WPA, both have been shown to have their own weaknesses or implementation issues.

While 802.11i is said to improve upon WEP and WPA, it is not yet commercially available and it may prove over time to have its own weaknesses as well.

There are wireless security steps that network administrators and home users alike may take to augment the security of their wireless networks, and discussing some of these steps is the purpose of this site.

None of these steps is intended as a replacement to WEP or WPA, but rather as a complement. Many of these steps do not apply to public hot spots, however, as it is generally the intent of the spot’s owner or operator to make access as easy and convenient as possible.  After all we use our networks for an increasing amount of our lives from entertainment to household and financial management.

Just have a look at this video which demonstrates how an ex-pat has turned their wireless network into a home entertainment portal. Although the channels listed are not accessible outside the uK by relaying through a third party server you can hide your location. It’s doesn’t always work but there are solutions you can see – Netflix America in UK. It’s an example why a fast, secure wireless network has become something of a necessity in the modern world.

Please remember that computer security is a complex issue and it would take volumes just to explain all of the ins and outs, but if you take some precaution to secure your wireless home network, you’ll have a basic understanding of this technology and a excellent start.

Quick Tip: All wireless devices must use the same WEP key!

Adapters and access point and other equipment all come with a default password and other settings – You should quickly change these values. Leaving these default values unchanged, just invites trouble, remember this is your private network, but the airwaves are public and the door is open to anyone that’s up to no good.

The most important values to change are the SSID, make sure this setting is the same for all devices in your wireless network.
A few things you can do to make your SSID more secure

  • Make it unique
  • Change it regularly
  • Disable SSID Broadcast

The SSID (Short for service set identifier) also referred to as a network name because essentially it is a name that identifies a wireless network.

Is the unique name shared among all devices in a wireless network. The SSID must be identical for all devices in the wireless network. It is case-sensitive and must not exceed 32 alphanumeric characters, which may be any keyboard character.

Quick Tip: It is important to note, however, that using the manufacturer’s default SSID, makes it easier for hackers or individuals to identify the access point’s manufacturer and look for specific weaknesses that may be used to gain unauthorized access or deny others access.

Make sure this setting is the same for all devices in your wireless network to insure Wireless security, I recommend that you change the default SSID to a unique name of your choice.

Disabling SSID broadcasting can be a useful security feature. However, when SSID broadcasting is disabled, Wireless site survey tools such as Windows XP’s Zero Configuration utility will not function.

It is best to disable the SSID broadcast until you have configured all of your wireless network clients.

Additional Reading: British TV Abroad, James Collins.

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