Wireless Security 101 — Threats and Solutions

Example 1

THREAT
Someone could intercept the network traffic between you and your Wireless Access Point.

SOLUTION
Use encryption to scramble communications over the network. Unencrypted data sent over a wireless network is easily intercepted. Wireless encryption comes in two flavors: The older “WEP” encryption and the newer much stronger WPA encryption. WEP encryption is easily broken using freely available software. WPA is by far the preferred method for wireless encryption and is available most newer wireless access points.

HOW TO
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0013-securing-your-wireless-network#use

Example 2

THREAT
Someone could figure out the administrative password and log directly in to your wireless access point and give themselves access.

SOLUTION
Your Wireless Access Point (WAP) will ship either with a default admin password, or no admin password at all. Change this immediately to something only you know. The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Be sure to choose a password that you can remember, but would be hard to guess.

HOW TO
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0014-tips-using-public-wi-fi-networks

Example 3

THREAT
Someone could easily find your network and try to connect or intercept your password.

SOLUTION
Most wireless routers have a mechanism called identifier broadcasting, or SSID. This is the network name your WAP broadcasts. The SSID will vary by manufacturer; typical names include “linksys” and “default.” Potential trespassers know this and search for WAPs with default SSIDs. Change this immediately to a unique SSID of your choice. You can also turn it off so your computer won’t send a signal to any device in the vicinity announcing its presence.

Example 4

THREAT
Someone could intercept a login and password as you enter it into a web page by intercepting your wireless traffic.

SOLUTION
Another way to avoid interception is to ensure that any web page where you enter confidential information is using “SSL” to encrypt the transmission of your confidential information. You should see “https://” instead of “http://” and usually a lock or key icon will appear on your browser as well.

HOW TOhttps://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0013-securing-your-wireless-network#use

Example 5

THREAT
Someone could try to use your wireless access point without your permission possibly doing illegal things or getting at your computer system.

SOLUTION
Allow only specific computers to access your wireless network. Also known as MAC address filtering, this feature allows only certain computers to connect to your WAP, making it much more difficult for trespassers to use your network.

For Your Consideration

Protect Your Data
As always, ensure that your operating system is kept up to date and that you are running regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.

Sources:

http://www.upenn.edu/computing/wireless/wireless-pennnet/general/homesecurity.html
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/consumers/onguard-online
http://uwm.edu/itsecurity