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Securing A Wireless LAN

written by: Ada Stoy•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/4/2011

While wireless networking is swiftly becoming popular, risks of network intrusion are also increasing since wireless networking has some security flaws. The following ways can reduce chances of network intrusion by many folds.

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    Securing A Wireless LAN

    A wireless network, unlike a wired network, allows users to work in a more convenient and flexible style while also reducing the costs. Wireless networking offers many benefits but at the same time creates a number of security issues that must be addressed. The same work convenience that makes wireless networking so good can also allow hackers to attack the network easily.

    By securing the wireless network, we can close many doors for hackers to access the network resources and services. These several ways, if implemented, will create a secure enough wireless network.

    WPA Encryption

    Among the different security standards in place for wireless networking, WEP is the most widespread and also severely flawed. Although WEP supports 128 bit encryption, it is identified to have many dangerous holes. A hacker would need only a few hours to read enough traffic to generate the required WEP key to get access to the wireless network and if hacking tools such as AirSnort is used, it makes the job even easier for a hacker. Since WEP Encryption is easier to crack, it is recommended to use WPA encryption instead.

    Coverage

    Unauthorized use of your wireless signals is one of the biggest problems with wireless networks because these networks have the ability to be used outside your building. Carefully position your wireless device antennas in such a way that access to signals by devices outside your premises is minimized. This helps prevent people from even having a chance to hack your wireless connection. The less exposure of signals to the outside world, the less chance the network will be hacked and used illegally for inappropriate activities.

    Default SSID (Service Set Identifier)

    SSID is a 32bit character identifier in the header of data packets sent over a Wireless LAN. It acts as a password, elementary identification and authorization mechanism for access to the network. Buying and using a new wireless device such as Access point without changing its default SSID could give potential to hackers to access the network, therefore, it is important to change it to something new and unique, it is a good idea to periodically change the SSID on all the wireless devices to further strengthen security.

    Filters

    SSID is a 32bit character identifier in the header of data packets sent over a Wireless LAN. It acts as a password, elementary identification and authorization mechanism for access to the network. Buying and using a new wireless device such as an access point without changing its default SSID could give potential to hackers to access the network.

    Therefore, it is important to change the default SSID to something new and unique. It is a good idea to periodically change the SSID on all the wireless devices to further strengthen security.

    Secure Channels

    Software and services that provide point-to-point encryption such as SSH, SSL and VPN should be used instead of direct network connections, FTP or telnet, whenever possible.

    Firewall

    A network firewall protects a computer network from hacking and cracking attempts. A firewall detects unauthorized access to the network and blocks it. A firewall is a 'must-have' security product for any computer network. Both hardware and software firewalls are available, Best Firewall - Hardware or Software? compares hardware and software firewalls.

    Passwords

    Simple passwords can be cracked easily be hackers. This is why you need to make sure you set a robust user name and password for entry into the router settings page and also for all user accounts. Read Creating unbreakable passwords to learn how to create a hard-to-guess password.

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    Conclusion

    Although it is impossible to completely secure a wireless network since MAC addresses can be spoofed with sniffers, SSID can be hacked and tools available to hijack SSH and SSL sessions can be used, the steps in this article will help you to achieve at least the bare minimum in securing your wireless LAN.