Wireless networks require connecting an Internet access point—typically a cable or DSL modem—to a wireless router to enable any device within range to access the Internet. Absent certain safeguards, anyone within proximity can access your network—called “piggybacking”—as well as sensitive information on your computer and/or other wireless devices. Any misdeed committed by an unauthorized user would, ultimately, be traced back to you.
Thus, it is critical to familiarize yourself with wireless router security types and best practices.
Types of Wireless Security
There are three primary types of wireless security in use today:
- Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
- Wi-Fi Protected Access 1 (WPA1)
- Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)
As WEP was the first wireless security algorithm, it is the least secure. In 1999, WPA came on the market to address the flaws inherent to WEP, and would later become WPA1. Subsequently, in 2004 WPA2 emerged as a more secure alternative to WPA1. WPA2 utilizes the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) that provides government-level encryption believed to be unhackable.
WPA2 has two additional modes: WPA2-PSK (Pre-Shared Key) for home and small office networks and WPA2-ENT (Enterprise) for the enterprise network as it provides greater security; however, WPA2-ENT also requires a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) authentication server.
How to Protect Your Wireless Network
There are several best practices to secure your wireless network:
- Use encryption to scramble the information making it less accessible to others. Wireless routers often have this feature switched off, requiring the user to turn it on.
- Limit access to your network by limiting access to specific devices.
- Secure your router by changing its name from the default to something unique and change the router’s preset password to a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Turn off remote management features, commonly used to enable the device’s manufacturer to provide technical support.
- Log out of your network as administrator.
- Make sure your router is current and up-to-date by regularly checking the manufacturer’s website for newer software versions to download, registering your router, and signing up for updates.
- Secure your computer with firewalls, antivirus protection, and anti-spyware programs.
- Enable security features on your mobile devices such as strong passwords on network-accessible apps, logging out of apps when not in use, and password protecting the devices themselves.
Granted, there is a lot of technical information regarding wireless security; however, by ensuring that you are familiar with the different types and best practices for safeguarding your network, you can greatly reduce becoming a victim of hackers and other intruders. As always, the Nerds are here to help guide you through the process should you need it. We provide IT Support to businesses and Computer Repair to home users. You may call anytime to book a service call or you can Book Online now.