Wireless Security

Wireless networking technology is something all of us utilize, whether it be through your phone, your laptop or your tablet. Almost all of us have a wireless network setup at home that we utilize, though not very many of us know the best ways of keeping this network safe and secure against intrusion.

As an IT Consulting Company, Analytics understands keeping your wireless network secure as possible is critical. Users send sensitive information over their wireless signals, such as their banking account logins, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and personal information about their kids or other family members.. Another scenario to think about is a hacker can impose on your network to borrow your internet connection, perhaps for nefarious purposes like stealing movies or other illegal activities you wouldn’t want to be made responsible for.

Setting up your wireless network to be secure isn’t a difficult task to undertake. It is certainly something you would be able to accomplish without engaging onsite IT services, but it does take a bit of effort to achieve.

We’ll assume you already have your wireless router setup to at least a basic level (ie: You can connect to your wireless router and you can already access the internet through it).The first thing you want to do on your wireless router is enable wireless encryption. This is as easy as clicking on a drop-down box and selecting the option that you want. By default, most wireless routers will give you one of a few options (see image): WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA-Enterprise, and WPA2-Enterprise. Some wireless routers use slightly different terminology for these, but they are generally the same.

As a very strong rule of thumb, you never want to use the WEP encryption anymore. This technology dates back to the first wireless routers and today it is extremely easy to break this level of encryption. Many of the new wireless routers don’t even offer it as an option anymore. That just leaves the question, which one of the remaining encryption technologies should we make use of? As a general rule, you want to use WPA2 in every situation unless you have a strong reason to put WPA into place, such as, having a very old computer you can’t upgrade the wireless card on. Virtually, all computers and wireless devices you will make use of have the ability to communicate using the WPA2 encryption technology. Computer security support companies such as Analytics always keeps an eye on what the most recent trends are in computer security in order to ensure that our clients’ networks are kept as secure and accessible as possible.

The WPA2-Personal is going to be the option the vast majority of home users are going to make use of. This is because it allows you to input a password directly into the router that you can then input onto your other wireless devices. WPA2-Enterprise is intended for Enterprise use and is more secure. It requires the use of a server that will allow each individual user to have their own individual password instead of having one single password shared between all users.

Logically, you want to make the password you put in place on your wireless network as complex and long as possible. Analytics suggests users have between 15-20 characters with some of them being upper-case, some of them being numbers, and some being special characters such as question marks and exclamation points. Analytics’ technicians usually suggest making use of a passphrase Something like, Lucy!s@Pr3ttyD0g (Lucy is a pretty dog) will work out very well.

Now your wireless network is making use of encryption which is your first, best and strongest defense against network intruders. You never want to have an easy wireless password and you always want to put in place the most robust encryption technology you have available.

Your next best step is to change the administrator password of your router itself. This password by itself will not protect you from having an intruder on your network. This step will protect you from having a guest come to your house, use your wireless, and be able to login to your router to change settings that will allow them or others to access your network remotely. Naturally you want to write down what you set your administrative password to be, otherwise, you will lock yourself out.

Other steps you can take to secure your wireless network don’t make a big difference compared to having a strong encryption password and the best available encryption technology. By themselves, these other options do little to increase your overall security, but all together they make it more challenging for a determined hacker to break into your network.

These other steps include the following:
(a) Disabling your SSID broadcast
(b) Locking your wireless network down to a specific MAC address
(c) Lowering the overall broadcast power of your wireless router
(d) Disabling DHCP on your wireless router

We won’t go into the detailed stages of how to take these steps in this blog. These recommended steps are best taken by those with a fairly technical background, or with the support of a Denver IT Services company such as Analytics. For general users, the best step you can take on your own is to strengthen your encryption security.

It is important to keep in mind that all these steps only “increase” how secure your wireless is. Wireless technology will always be more vulnerable to attack or interception since by its nature, it is a wide area broadcast of your data. It is always more preferable to have your network setup using physical network wires as opposed to wireless. For a hacker, it becomes a lot more difficult to break into a wired network than it is for them to break into a wireless one. For most of us though, a fully wired network isn’t feasible so we have to take the best steps available for us to reduce our exposure when we utilize wireless technology.