The Critical Importance of Wireless Security
The goal of computer security is to effectively block out the intruders while permitting access to authorized users. The fact that these defenses can be lowered essentially makes the security permeable, meaning it can be manipulated by anyone with identifying credentials. If an intruder is able to learn how you get into the system, they can take those same steps and eventually gain access to your private network. Once the intruder gets inside, all the data on your hard drive is at great risk.
A wireless network is vulnerable to all exploits targeted at wired networks, with a weakness of their own that makes them to susceptible to many more attacks. Someone with a little common knowledge on wireless technology could sit in front of your office building or home and easily hack into your network. Breaking into a wireless network requires no physical breach. Since you are broadcasting from a signal, your network is simply up for grasp, waiting for anyone to latch on.
The use of DSSS technology is what modulates the radio frequency and disperses transmission over the entire frequency band designated for wireless communication, adding a redundant pattern to every bit transmitted. The technique used to generate these patterns is intended to only be known by the authorized sender and receiver. Unfortunately, the unpredictability of these signals often benefits unauthorized parties as well.
Protecting Your Wireless Network
Although no system is ever 100% secure, there are a few measures that can be taken to protect your wireless network. You can begin by implementing security measures commonly applied to conventional wired networks, such as administering access to files, folders and drives, establishing various group policies, specifying levels of user permissions and so forth. The downside is that an intruder attempting to intercept your radio frequency doesn't necessarily need to concern themselves with passwords, authorization and such matters. This type of security is mainly applied to keep employees from accessing data they are not intended to see. However, these security measures do not protect against prying by an intruder intercepting communications. For this reason, wireless communications should be protected by various mechanisms as this type of network is highly susceptible to intrusion.
In a WLAN (wireless local area network) environment, the best security practice involves transforming your communications into data that is unreadable by outsiders and unauthorized viewers. Most new operating systems come included with encryption features that allow you to scramble your own data. Many wireless devices also come with built-in encryption features to secure usernames, passwords and messages being transmitted across the network. While this method can be breached, the use of a strong encryption algorithm will help to ensure that your communications remain protected even if it happens to be intercepted.
Wireless communications are not perfect and can be easily compromised by someone with enough knowledge on the technology. At the same time, taking a few security measures of your own could go a long way in protecting the network. By making yourself aware of the vulnerabilities and taking advantage of the many available security mechanisms, you can rest a bit easier by knowing your wireless network isn't totally exposed.