Wireless Security at Home
When typing "Wireless Security" into a search engine, you are likely to receive hundreds to thousands of results on the subject. These articles will introduce you to wireless technology and offer a number of ways to secure your wireless network. You may also notice that many of these articles focus on securing the wireless network of a corporation. However, Wi-Fi is predominantly a consumer technology, being used at home just as much, if not more than in a corporate setting. The focus of this article is to fill the Wi-Fi void and discuss the importance of wireless security for your home.
Wireless security is essential in the home for the same reason it is critical for a huge corporation. If an unsecured wireless network is being used in your home, anyone with the right technology in close proximity can intrude on your internet communications. Depending on the configurations of your network, an intruder can even gain complete access to the hard drive on your computer. Even if no one is out to spy on your activity, a neighbor can easily feed off of your signal to make an internet connection. This will deprive your computer of the precious bandwidth for which you pay an Internet Service Provider. Additionally, if your neighbor happens to conduct some type of illicit activity online, those crimes could eventually be traced back to you.
The Importance of Encryption
Now that we have stressed the importance of wireless security, we shall proceed with a few steps that can be taken to secure your home network. The most important and effective element of wireless security is encryption. Nearly every wireless access point has type of encryption feature built into it. Most older versions offer WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy) encryption, while newer access points offer either WEP or WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).
WPA is certainly the more secure option. WEP encryption has many flaws as it enables data to be easily captured and deciphered. At the same time, it would literally take you weeks of careless web surfing to generate enough traffic where WEP encryption can be compromised.
If your wireless device does not support WPA, we highly recommend that you upgrade to one that does.
Conceal your Presence
Wireless access points use what is known as an identifier, a broadcasting mechanism that announces the presence of the access point. This causes a problem for many reasons. More than likely, you are already aware of your wireless network so there is no point in announcing it. In truth, the only one benefitting from this broadcast is a malicious hacker. If your wireless access point allows you to disable to "identifier broadcasting," you should do so immediately.
Place Restrictions on your Access Point
Another important aspect of wireless security is limiting which computers are allowed to use your access point. All network interface cards include what is known as a MAC (Media Access Control) address. Many wireless access points contain a mechanism that can be used to notify them of them which MAC addresses are allowed to use your networks, a trick that will help to keep intruders away.
Restricting access by MAC address isn't a foolproof solution, but neither are the other two security measures. However, they all provide solid security and will help to prevent intruders from spying on your home network.