Wi-Fi Security – Measures to Prevent Technology Enabled Crimes

Considered as one of the greatest advancement since the Internet, Wi-Fi wireless networking technology has given mobility to computers. People use wireless technology in the office, at home, and in public places. Unless Wi-Fi users adopt some sort of security, various problems can result when computers transmit unsecured information to one another.

Bandwidth theft, exposed e-mail messages, password or user name theft, and hijacked online identity rank among the top problems brought about by unsecured Wi-Fi transmissions. Every Wi-Fi user must know how to secure their computer.

Use WPA Instead of WEP Encryption

Encryption protocols are used to make network traffic more secure by encoding data packets that are transmitted thereon. Unfortunately, some wireless routers don’t have encryption enable or use the weaker WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) security protocol.

It is well known that WEP security keys are easy to break and therefore network administrators should use the WPA or WPA2 protocols. Even if a router doesn’t support the more secure WPA or WPA2 protocols, WEP should be used; it is better than nothing.

Install a Firewall on Every Computer and Server

A firewall is the most basic and fundamental network security measure there is to secure wireless networks. While Wi-Fi routers can be used to extend the range of networks, they also make the network more vulnerable. A firewall will need to be installed on every computer to ward off security threats. This should be done even if the wireless router has a firewall installed on it.

Use Virtual Private Network (VPN)

B­asically, VPNs form a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. VPNs use authenticated links to make sure that only authorized users can connect to a network. It also uses encryption to make sure that others can’t intercept and can’t use data that travels over the Internet. Numerous websites offer both free and paid VPN versions. VPNbase is one of them.

Reduce the Transmitter Power of Network Access Points

Part of the convenience of using wireless networks is the ability to access services remotely. This strength also becomes a weakness, because others can see, and potentially use the network as well, especially when a powerful transmitter/antenna is being used.

To limit how far outside the premises the wireless signal travels, reduce the power output of wireless antennas. This requires some tweaking to find the right setting, because reducing the signal output of antennas also reduces the network’s service delivery and quality.

Disable Remote Administration

WLAN (wireless local area network) routers often come with the ability for a network administrator to remotely configure the router. By default, this feature is usually turned off and should stay that way if remote administration is not absolutely necessary. While network administrators can usually set passwords, to secure access to the router’s control panel, leaving the feature enabled could leave the network vulnerable as well.

Remove or Disable Weak Passwords and Access Codes

Ensure that all default passwords and access codes that come preset on network equipment are changed or disabled. Access the router’s web interface and update all settings that have a bearing on network security. Be sure the use strong passwords as well.

Physically Secure your Wireless Network Equipment

Hardware devices typically come with a hard reset button. Making network equipment readily available to be physically handled by anyone who wishes to do so puts the network at risk. Secure all critical and sensitive equipment in rooms or equipment racks.

Don’t Broadcast the Network’s SSID

To allow for the easy setup of wireless clients, most wireless access points will broadcast the SSID (Service Set IDentifier), or network name. While broadcasting the SSID makes setting up wireless clients easier, it also makes WLANs visible to wireless devices that are within range, including those that are malicious. Turn off SSID broadcast to make the network invisible and more secure.

Simple Wireless Network Security

Ensuring that a wireless network is secure is an ongoing responsibility. Wireless network threats, such as those posed by hackers and viruses can be thwarted by some common sense approaches such as physically securing network equipment and using strong encryption methods and technologies. However, the most effective security measures are those that seek to cover all the known security vulnerabilities.