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Securing Wireless Networks

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There seem to be lots of people who've installed wireless networks, but haven't secured them properly. Although WEP isn't 100% secure, there are steps that people can take to secure wireless networks:

Change the router's password
All routers of a particular model have the same default password. If somebody knows the model of the router, and you haven't changed the default password, they will be able to change the settings of the router.

Disable SSID broadcasting
By default routers broadcast their SSIDs (the name of the router) to anybody who cares to listen. If you prevent the router from broadcasting its SSID, then anybody trying to hack in won't even know it's there.

Change the router's SSID
Even if you've disabled SSID broadcasting, hackers might just randomly try the default SSID (often the manufacturer's name). If you change the SSID, then hackers are unlikely to guess the correct one. This makes legitimately connecting a bit more difficult, because you'll need to enter the SSID manually, rather than selecting it from a list.

Enable WEP
With WEP enabled, anybody who wants to connect to your network will need the 26 character WEP key to do so.

Enable MAC address filtering
All wireless devices have unique MAC addresses (similar to cars having unique engine ID numbers). If you know the MAC addresses of all the wireless devices that you want to connect to the router, then you can set the router to only allow access from those particular devices.

Passwords and SSIDs
Change them regularly. Preferably while connected through an Ethernet cable, so that if anybody has managed to hack in, they won't be able to spy on the new passwords.

Positioning the router
It's generally considering good practice to positioning the router away from the walls of your house/office, so that your neighbours are less likely to get a strong signal.

One of my neighbours has an unprotected wireless network. I was tempted to connect to it myself, but I then realised that it could leave my own PC open to attack.


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Created on: 01 Dec 2004. Modified on: 01 Dec 2004.
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