Wireless Network Security – You Need to Know the Basics

Wireless Network Security – You Need to Know the Basics

By now, most of us are comfortable with wireless networks. Perhaps too comfortable to realize that they may not be very secure or safe!

With a wireless network, anyone in range of the network can easily gain access to it because the connection can be made via a radio signal or something similar. A wired network, on the other hand, requires a cable to connect directly to the network.

Wireless Networks and Passwords

While someone on the same wireless network cannot see what other users on the network are doing (spying), but they can use up the network bandwidth and limited data on the network. That’s how public Wi-Fi at hotels, airports and other public areas operate.All this happens due to the absence of password protection. Everyone can use the Wi-Fi if it is not password protected.

The Standards

This is not to say that there is no regulation or boundaries to follow to connect to the internet. There is the Institute of Electronics and Engineers (IEEE) that places the most emphasis on the local area and wireless local area network hardware (LANs and WLANs).

The WEP was developed at first by the IEEE. WEP stands for Wireless Equivalent Privacy standard that offers similar or greater protection than a wired network. The values upheld by the WEP security standards included trust, confidentiality, and integrity.

This means that with the WEP standards in place for your wireless networks, the chances of the following increased:

  1. No stranger will be able to spy on your online activity.
  2. Also, the data received over the wireless connection hasn’t been changed by hackers when WEP protection is in place.
  3. You can also have faith in those connected to the network because they have authorization to be on the network.

More iterations of the WEP like the WEP2 came and went so that hackers could be deterred in their efforts to hack into networks. WEP2 was formulated due to increased pressure from security experts to protect the wireless internet networks.

Home networks still use WEP2 that requires a key to protect the network and blocks entry of all individuals who don’t have that key. Hackers are deterred because they also want an easy network without passwords to hack into.

Switching from the WEP WEP2

If WEP doesn’t provide enough security, there’s always WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). WEP was the predecessor to this. Wi-Fi devices support many of the WPA technology variants. WPA was also improved to the WPA 2 and was available for both enterprises and for home use.

For home wireless internet use, it was the WPA-Personal also known as WPA-PSK (the PSK is for preferred share key). WPA2 supports new hardware for WI-Fi and offers much better security than WEP and WEP2.

Better authentication is offered through better tools like the 802.1X and is known as Radius. Radius is used by larger businesses that support the tools through knowledgeable employees and business resources.

If you would like to know more about wireless security or get better wireless security for your business, visit us at Crumbacher.

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