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Wireless Security Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Ten years ago, I remember driving around my neighborhood with a laptop, wireless card, and an antenna looking at the Service Set Identifiers (SSID) of all the open wireless networks. Back then, a home user’s packets often flew through the air unencrypted with nary a thought to who might be listening.

 

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As a protocol, Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), has continually improved (IEEE 802.11) and today it is the preferred communication channel for a multitude of home devices including video game consoles, cameras, streaming video devices, mobile phones, tablets, and list goes on. As October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we outline typical WiFi risks and share sensible precautions.

Family-on-laptop-300x199In my last three homes, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) installation technician arrived with a cable modem that included four Ethernet ports and native WiFi default enabled. In each case, the technician explained that I could manage the cable modem through the settings webpage. When I inquired about management authentication credentials all of the technicians told me that passwords were not enabled by default, which naturally caused some consternation due to the obvious security implications.

It turns out that most ISPs will provide a modem without WiFi capabilities upon request. You can also request that a WiFi enabled modem be converted to bridge mode which will allow you to attach and manage your own WiFi access point (AP) without worrying about conflicts. Read More »

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It Could Happen to You!

As I flew home from Interop Vegas the other night – quick side note: the event was great, check out an overview and a few fun TechWiseTV Videos: Keynote from Padma Warrior , Managing Beyond BYOD, Is Your Network Ready for Cloud? -  I realized that my kindle was not accessible, my laptop was dead and I’d already read the in-flight magazine. Given the close quarters of the commuter plane, I decided it would be okay to peek at what my neighbor was reading. As I glanced over, he turned to an article with a headline that screamed “It could happen to you!!” I then noticed it was a combat handgun magazine and decided I would give him some space.

With no reading materials, I started thinking about all of the situations that we as individuals and as organizations get into that feel secure, but which can actually be quite threatening. Those are the situations that make having insurance worthwhile. When it comes to security on the wireless network, nobody expects hackers and rogue attacks to infiltrate their network, but all of the smart network managers prepare for it anyway.

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5 Steps for Assessing Your Wireless Network Security

Regularly checking your WLAN for vulnerabilities will help keep your network safe

Network security is a never-ending task; it requires ongoing vigilance. Securing your wireless network can be particularly tricky because unauthorized users can quietly sneak onto your network, unseen and possibly undetected. To keep your WLAN secure, it’s important to stay on top of new wireless vulnerabilities. By regularly performing a vulnerability assessment on your wireless network, you can identify and close any security holes before a hacker can slip through them.

With a WLAN vulnerability assessment, you’re figuring out what your wireless network looks like to the outside world on the Internet. Is there an easy way in to your network? Can unauthorized devices attach themselves to your network? A WLAN vulnerability assessment can answer these questions—and more.

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Are you secure online?

Post contributed by Rich Mullikin, a technology professional who has worked with leading IT security, networking, and wireless companies for the past 14 years.

Threats to wireless security are rampant, from software programs designed to exploit weaknesses in security protocols to the average next door neighbor looking for a “free ride.”  There are even apps that allow intruders to snoop on your activity while you surf the Internet on an unprotected network, granting access to your passwords and user names. How often do you see your Facebook friends posting spam on everyone’s walls?!

We’ve said it a million times, and we’ll continue to say it: protect your home wireless network with a strong password!  I must admit that I failed to do that very thing for a couple of years after moving from California to Texas. I was protected in CA, but while setting up my wireless network at my new home in TX, I was in a hurry and opted not to set up a password to protect the network, assuming I’d do it later. Later was over two years, and then finally, after feeling guilty for that long that I wasn’t practicing what I preached, I remedied the situation.

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