Wireless security

Today I got asked to comment on KIMT news regarding wireless security.  I was quite happy they were covering this topic.  Wireless security is one of the most over looked security holes.  Many home users and some businesses don’t understand the dangers of having an open or weak wireless connection.  They feel that if the neighbor gets on the internet through them “ohh well”.  However, if someone uses your connection to make an attack, hack a bank or some other illegal action the investigation will come back to the last internet address they can find…your house.  Also, wireless is like a radio station, you don’t talk to just the router…anyone that wants to listen in can.  This is why we use encryption to change the language our wireless uses and pass phrases to limit who can use the network.   

Often people keep the default “open” wireless settings or use the “easy button” which uses WEP.  WEP is the weakest security and used as the default on the mainstream home routers and ISP modems (Quest, Mediacom, etc.).  I like to think of WEP as putting a door on your house, it’ll keep the honest people out.  However, there are many ways to break WEP encryption in a matter of minutes. 

The security that should be used is called WPA.  While no wireless encryption is as secure as using a wired connection WPA is the best available today.  There also two levels of WPA security, WPA1 (a.k.a WPA-TKIP) and WPA2 (a.k.a WPA-AES).  WPA2 should be used where ever possible.

Wireless security settings are really not that hard for the average user to set up.  However each brand of router has its own user interface and default network settings.  Therefore I can’t simply post a single way to set all of them up.  You can however find directions on setting up your router’s wireless security on the manufacturer’s websites.

Look for more information on tonight’s (7/14/11) KIMT 5 &6 o’clock news.  Also feel free to post questions and comments here.

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