Wireless Security

Wireless security is important. The world of information technology is increasingly moving towards wireless communication, especially in the homes of an average citizen. In every single job that I have been to, I have worked with laptops as well as wireless networks. There are obvious advantages of not having to deal with wired communication, but the extreme disadvantage is wireless security. The Ethernet packets are being broadcasted through the air. If you are doing online transactions with money, and you have not taken the steps to secure your wireless networks, you are asking for someone to steal and manipulate your financial information.

Why Use Wireless Security

The basic idea behind wireless security is encryption. A mathematics formula, or an algorithm, is applied to the data to create what is termed cyphertext. In order for the machine on the other end to decrypt the data, certain values have to be applied to the algorithm to decrypt the data accurately. These terms are usually referred to as keys. The longer the key, the tougher the encryption.

Types Of Wireless Security

The three basic type of encryption is Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), and WPA2. WEP was the first algorithm introduced to wireless networks, and was for a long time the only security option. Since this is an old technology, it is very easy for an experienced hacker to crack into a network running WEP. It is suggested that whenever you can, to at least use WPA, however WPA2 is much better. WPA2 addresses the weaknesses of WPA. The name of the encryption refers to the type of algorithm used.

To set up a wireless security, these are the recommended settings. First, you want to enable MAC address filtering in the router, and input the various MAC addresses of the NICs you want to allow on your network. Second, disable SSID broadcasting. SSID broadcasting basically broadcasts the name of your network, therefore making it easier to connect to the network. With this option turned off, the only way to connect to the network is to manually input the network name into the computer. Finally, the third step is to enable WPA2 encryption. It is fairly easy to set up WPA2, because it runs off of a passphrase. The passphrase is sent through a separate algorithm that calculates the keys needed to encrypt and decrypt the data. It is recommended to treat a pass phrase as a password. A strong password has upper and lower case letters, at least six characters, and uses symbols and numbers.

If you follow these steps, your network will be secured on various levels, and it would utilize all current technology in securing your wireless data. This is especially important when doing online transactions. Read more on wireless security.

Jon Brengle

A+, Network+, MCP Certified