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Wireless Insecurity

Wireless Insecurity
  Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.


If you have a wireless connection in your home or office, it’s time to check up on your wireless security.  Over half the home networks installed are set up with full access, allowing anyone in the neighborhood to use the wireless connection. If you have shared files on your home pc and an open wireless connection, you could be sharing your computer with anyone who cares to connect.   If you take home a wireless router and plug it in and start using it, you could easily be completely unsecured.

Wireless security has evolved over the last few years. If your wireless device was purchased 2 or more years ago, it is probably using an obsolete and easily cracked security protocol, called WEP (Wired Equivalency Protocol). There are free tools available now which allow cracking a WEP key in a few minutes.  Some wireless routers have firmware updates which allow you to update the hardware to use newer more secure ways of connecting. If not, buy one that supports the newer standards. Both the wireless router or access point and your wireless laptop or other device must support the same security protocol to work together.  I recommend the Linksys WRT54GL if you need to upgrade.

You want to be using WPA2, which is much more secure. If your wireless router is set for WPA or WPA2, you do not need to upgrade.  Be sure that you have enabled security, and entered an encryption key (Pre Shared Key). Larger networks take it a step further and authenticate each user of wireless when they connect based on their user account.

If you are using Windows XP, you may also need to install a free update that enables using WPA2. See the link below.

Paying attention to security takes time and is often not a priority. But, it’s less costly than the consequences of opening up your computers to the public. Take a few minutes and check the settings on your wireless equipment.

For more information:
WEP Cracking: www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/04/wireless_code_cracking/           www.practicallynetworked.com/tools/wireless_articles_security.htm
WPA and WPA2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WPA2
WPA Setup instructions: www.komando.com/tips/index.aspx?id=1629
Microsoft WPA2 update for Windows XP: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/893357
Legal issues http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/08/technology/personaltech/internet_piracy/index.htm

Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com


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