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Wireless Security


                                                                                    
Wireless access to the Internet is a hot trend; it offers the user convenience and mobility when away from work/home. College students (for example) are no longer confined to a classroom when taking a course; they can go online and take the class anywhere/anytime.

Wireless technology is great and convenient, but it is also something that needs to be used with caution.Why? Because that same technology you use for convenience, if left unsecured, can also be accessed by just about anyone. Anyone (neighbors, people driving by, or hackers) with a wireless computer may access your wireless network if it is not properly secured. They can use your Internet to gain access to the contents of your computer or use it to commit a cyber crime.

Use the following best practices to ensure that your wireless connection and authorized computers are secure:

Turn off your wireless network if you are not using it

If you are not using your wireless network Turn It Off !  Hackers and neighbors cannot see or access a wireless router when it is shutoff. You are also limiting the amount of time a hacker or neighbor tries to gain access to your network.

Set the Encryption Method

Encryption scrambles information in an unreadable format so only the sender (computer A) and receiver (computer B) can read it. Each computer must have a special key code to decrypt the information. This is the most effective way to secure your wireless network from intruders trying to access and communicate over it. The majority of wireless routers and access points have built-in encryption settings that must be turned on during the installation phase.

         Two types of encryption are available:

                        Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) - WPA is a stronger upgraded
                         encryption standard that replaced WEP.

                        Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) - WEP is an old encryption
                        standard that uses radio waves to emit broadcasts (not 100%
                        secure).

When choosing an encryption type, make sure your computer, router, and other equipment use the same method to ensure effective security measures.

Install and use anti-virus, anti-spyware software, and a firewall

 As with any computer connected to the Internet the Anti-virus, Anti-spyware, and a Firewall should always be turned on. Wireless networks are more vulnerable to attacks if there is minimal or no security measures in place. For convenience, set the anti-virus and anti-spyware software to update automatically. Also, if you discover your firewall is turned off, Turn It On !

Modify the default identifier ID on your router

An identifier is a name given to a device that identifies it when installed (ex. Router 1). The identifier that your wireless router was assigned is a standard default ID from the manufacturer. Even if your router is not broadcasting its identifier, hackers can obtain the default ID (by searching online) and try to access your network. 

Modify your wireless router identifier to something only you would know (ex. ChotE).Do not use common information that is easy to guess (First name, pet name, street address, “home” computer). Also, configure that same identifier into the computers (that need wireless access) so the two can communicate. When setting the password remember to use a strong one (8-10characters, numbers, symbols, and upper & lowercase letters); the more complicated your password is, the harder it is for hackers to gain access to your network.

During installation modify the router's pre-set password

Manufacturers assign standard default passwords that allow you to set up and operate the wireless router. Hackers can get these default passwords from the Internet; modify it to a strong password.

Only allow specific computers to access your wireless network

When installing the wireless router add the computers that are allowed to communicate with it. This verifies that only authorized computers are accessing the wireless router. The router compares each computers MAC address against its identifier to grant you access. Be careful some hackers have copied/mimicked MAC addresses to access your router; don't rely on this as your only means of security.

Turn off the identifier broadcast

Identifier broadcasting is a setting on the wireless router that sends out a signal to any device in the area and advertises its presence. Broadcasting your internet connection is an invitation for hackers and other people to use it; if you don’t want any computer problems Turn It Off ! Hackers use identifier broadcasting to pinpoint vulnerable wireless networks that are not properly secured to gain access.  Turn off identifier broadcasting.

Public Hot Spots are not always secure

Cafés, hotels, and other public businesses offer wireless networks to their customers; though these Hot Spots may be convenient, they are probably not secure. Always ask the store owner/manager (that offers public internet access) what their security measures are.

Don't send Sensitive information over an unsecure network

When sending information over a public wireless network always assume that it is unsecure. If you cannot verify that a public Hot Spot has security measures in effect, don’t send or receive any information over that network.

Remember:

Using wireless routers is dangerous because it provides an invitation for hackers, neighbors, to use or cause malicious intent over your internet connection. Also, there is no such thing as being 100% secure; using these best practices will discourage neighbors and hackers from using your wireless router connection.