Internet Survival Skills 105 – Cut The Cord

Wireless networks are inexpensive and easy to set up. The default configuration is generally insecure though, and to prevent theft of your bandwidth or exposing your internal network to unauthorized access some additional configuration is necessary. After you have basic networking established, take some time and tighten up security on your WIFI configuration with these basic tips:


MAC address filtering. Every Ethernet and Wireless network card has a unique Media Access Control number assigned by the manufacturer. While this number can be spoofed, limiting your Access Point to the specific MAC addresses your computers use will prevent casual connections.


Change the SSID. The service set identifier identifies your wireless network. Changing your SSID makes if a little more difficult for the casual user to attach to your Access Point. The use of non-standard characters produced with ALT-keypad combinations can thwart some wireless sniffers.


Disable SSID broadcast. Most network scanners can’t detect your Access Point if you disable SSID broadcasts. Note that the built-in client included with Windows XP may have a problem as well. You may have to disable the zero-configuration feature and use the wireless card manufacturer’s utility.


Enable encryption. Even if an attacker cannot associate with your network, your traffic could still be intercepted. The two types of encryption available are WEP and WPA. WPA is more secure than the older WEP protocol.  Use as complex a password string as possible and include non alpha-numeric characters. Encryption can affect performance on slower machines.


Change your Access Point Administrative Information. The default login and password for common Access Points are well known. Change the user name if possible and password to prevent an attacker from modifying your settings.