Sunday, October 7, 2007

Wireless Network Security

Networks carry all sorts of confidential data, so security is a highly important part of any wireless network structure. Security ensures that the same level of data integrity and confidentiality as a wired network are maintained. Without properly implemented security measures, any wireless network adapter coming within range of another network adapter or access point can join the network. The amount of non secure wireless access points is alarming – a recent study showed how over 90% of Access Points have little or no security enabled. I once did a little research of my own and found that 3 out of 5 of the public access points I checked had either no security at all or WEP - which allowed me to crack the key within 15 minutes using freely available tools on the Internet.
So why is there such a high lack of security? Well, I would say it’s probably down to laziness and lack of knowledge; people are not aware of these things. Especially in small companies and at home, people tend to have the “so long as it’s up and running” attitude which means that if after using the wireless setup wizard they are able to browse the internet or access files remotely from a wireless device then all is well… BIG mistake! To overlook wireless security is like leaving the front door to your house permanently open. Without any - or little - security that’s essentially what you’re doing; allowing anyone in range to sniff your network packets, read your e-mails, use your internet for free, and even gain access to your files.
With the introduction of push-button security for home user products, we can expect to see an increase in the implementation of wireless security among wireless router users. The main aim behind push-button security is to provide a simplified and enhanced method of setting up and building a home network. With so many people – particularly home users – failing to notice the importance of security as part of their wireless network building, push-button becomes a means of enabling some form of security with a click of the mouse or touch of a button. While one may begin to question the strength of such security, another will remind you that something is better than nothing at all!
If you’re reading this and still use WEP, check for a driver and/or firmware update for your hardware and, if possible, change to WPA security now! Also, keep in mind for the next time you purchase new hardware, make sure the product supports WPA TKIP at the very least.

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