Wireless Networking – Security

Securing Wireless Networks

There have been a lot of changes in the home Internet access market. In the early days, we had dial-up modems that would allow home computers to access the Internet. The advances in the modem speeds were slow and it was years between any increase in speed.

Now, there are many high speed Internet access choices are available: cable, DSL, satellite, and even using the electrical grid.

The problem is no longer how to get access to the Internet, but “how to get all of the computers in the home access to the Internet”. The answer: a wireless router.

Home wireless Internet access seems to be all the rage. Why, because setting up and getting the darn things working is so easy. Like magic, you can have all of those home computer surfing the Internet faster than it takes to burn dinner. Most Wireless Access Points (WAP) provide not only the rabbit-ear antennae for wireless devices (PCs, notebooks, PDA), but four or more real network ports for existing wired computers.

Wireless Access Points (WAP or just AP) are inexpensive, you have many choices, and they are easy to setup. They are practically Plug and Play – actually it would be Unplug, Plug and Play.

But, there is a price to pay to facilitate the ease of setting up a wireless home network – privacy and security. The manufacturers of the wireless routers have turned off all security. Like Microsoft Windows, all security is turned off because you, the consumer, want to have a pleasant out of box experience.

Wireless routers broadcast a radio signal that can allow a computer to connect to it anywhere from 60 – 200 feet indoors, up to one mile outdoors. I have lost count of how many times I have visited a friend or family members house, opened up my Dell notebook computer with a wireless network card and Windows XP, scanned, discovered and connected to a neighbor’s wireless network. Within seconds I would have Internet access and in some cases I could even access the neighbor’s home computers.

The manuals that come with the wireless units usually detail the steps required to enable these security measures. But, once the wireless networking is working, most people put down the manual and start surfing.

Instead of writing my own list of steps to secure your Wireless Access Point, I have provided several links that cover all the bases.

PC Magazine

Software Quality Management Magazine

Microsoft Support

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