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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Security - What are the principal ways to secure a wireless network?

Securing a wireless network is as important as securing wired networks, and in many cases even more since it can be easier to tap into a wireless network. One or the other time all of us might have used a WiFi network which might be unsecure (highly unsecure, or may have recent holes that are not yet patched). But this would not do much harm if you are just honestly looking for connecting to the internet. If you own an unsecure wireless network, you should know that everyone is not honest as you are. Attackers with bad intentions can know what activities are taking place in your network and how your network resources can be exploited.  This problem can be fixed by following some basic principles of securing your wireless network:
- WEP and WPA encryption: Encryption is the first line of defense that you can call up for the security of your network. The data that your PC transmits to the wireless router is encoded. But usually what happens is that in most of the routers this option is disabled. You first need to check if it is enabled or not. If you keep it disabled, it will expose your network to several vulnerabilities. You should keep the encryption in enable mode and use the strongest form that is supported by your computer. WPA2 is more sophisticated when compared to WPA. WEP can be easily cracked and so it has been replaced by the most recent version of WPA i.e., the WPA2. One thing to be taken care of is that all the devices should have either WEP or WPA if you are using either of them. These two protocols cannot be mixed and used. The WEP uses the same key every time but this is not the case with the WPA. Here the keys keep on changing dynamically. This makes it almost impossible to hack. The encryption key must have a strong password like a combination of numbers and letters of more than 14 characters. If your computer has an old router that supports only WEP, use the 128-bit WEP key as it is the safest. But you should continuously keep checking for a firmware update at the manufacturer’s website. This update will provide WPA support to WEP. If no update is available, you can replace the old routers and the adapters with their new models that provide support for WPA. It’s better to go with hybrid version of the routers that support both WPA and WPA2. This will provide stronger encryption at the same time while maintaining compatibility with the other adapters.
It should be made sure that the default network name as well as the password have been changed. Doing so will make it difficult for the hackers to break int o the system and change its configuration. Even if you do have a firewall in the router, additional security measures have to be taken. The firewall does not lets the hackers break in to the system. But it does not stop people that lie in to the geographical range of wi-fi from accessing the network. There are readily available tools that can be used for sniffing the traffic through your wireless networks. To supplement the security, the software firewall should also be installed on the computer. Public hotspots are typically very unsecure.  If there are no precautions it should be assumed internet traffic whether incoming or outgoing is visible to the attackers. Before connecting to the network always make sure that is a legitimate one, make sure that the firewall is enabled. And keep the file sharing option to off. You can check whether you have selected the appropriate security options in the firewall settings. These are some tips to increase your security level when dealing with WiFi.

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