Wireless Networking


Wireless networking makes it easy to share Internet access and data. But you wouldn't want to share your information with just anyone. With a wireless network, your information is traveling through the airwaves — not physical wires, so anyone within range can "listen in" on your network. Here are some essential security measures you should take to secure your wireless network:

Change the default SSID or network name

Short for service set identifier, a 32-character unique identifier attached to the header of packets sent over a wireless LAN (WLAN) that acts as a password when a mobile device tries to connect. The SSID differentiates one WLAN from another, so all access points and all devices attempting to connect to a specific WLAN must use the same SSID. An SSID is also referred to as a network name because essentially it is a name that identifies a wireless network. Hackers know these defaults and can try them to join your network. Change the network's SSID to something unique.

Disable SSID broadcast options

By default, most wireless networking devices are set to broadcast the SSID, so anyone can easily join the wireless network. But hackers will also be able to connect, so unless you're running a public hotspot, it's best to disable SSID broadcast.

Change the default password needed to access your wireless device.

Hackers know these defaults and will try them to access your wireless device and change your network settings.

Enable MAC address filtering

If your wireless product offers it, enable MAC address filtering. The MAC address is a unique series of numbers and letters assigned to every networking device. With MAC address filtering enabled, wireless network access is provided solely for wireless devices with specific MAC addresses. This makes it harder for a hacker to access your network using a random MAC address.

Encrypt your connection

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), the latest high-security standard for wireless networking, increases the level of data protection and access control for wireless networks. WPA provides several benefits to enhance security. It keeps out unwanted users by checking for the proper permission and password before allowing network access. It is also more robust than the security standard it is replacing, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which provides basic protection for home networks and limited protection on public networks. WPA improves data encryption so attackers will not be able to view or alter any data traveling to or from your wireless network.

For more information about WPA, visit the website of the Wi-Fi Alliance, www.wi-fi.org.