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What Are the Best Tips for Wireless Security?

Wireless router.
A WPA key can be used to secure a wireless network.
Article Details
  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a number of effective and fairly simple tips for wireless security that can help a computer user better ensure that his or her wireless network is safe and secure. One of the easiest, but also easily overlooked, ways to immediately improve security for a wireless network is to change the default administrator password for a hub or router. Devices that support Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) security protocols are also much better protected than older devices that used wired equivalency privacy (WEP). There are some methods to improve wireless security, however, that are not necessarily as powerful as they may seem, such as alterations to service set identifier (SSID) broadcasting and using media access control (MAC) filtering.

Wireless security refers to methods and practices used to improve or establish a secure wireless network. Since wireless technology often allows multiple users to connect to a network, security protocols should be followed to ensure only authorized access to the network. One of the best ways to begin creating wireless security is for a computer user to change the default administrator password on the wireless router or hub he or she is using. This default password is usually set as “default,” “password,” or something equally useless for ensuring security. By changing this password, a network becomes more difficult to alter by unauthorized users.

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Someone trying to ensure greater wireless security should also use a router or hub that supports WPA security protocols. Older devices often used WEP security measures, which were fairly limited and could be cracked by a dedicated hacker in a very short period. WPA methods allow a system administrator to set a password for a network utilizing any combination of numbers and letters, including both upper and lowercase. As long as the administrator uses a password that consists of fairly random strings of letters and numbers, WEP protocols can provide a great deal of wireless security.

Caution should be demonstrated with regard to anyone allowed access to such a network, however. Since passwords for administrators and network access can be complicated and difficult to remember, if properly created, there is a tendency for users to write them down. Once written down, these hard copies of the passwords present new security risks and should be carefully controlled.

There are also some methods of wireless security that are often suggested, but are not necessarily as powerful as they may seem. Limiting SSID broadcasting, for example, seems like it can help secure a network since a hub or router would then not publicly transmit the SSID for that network. Hackers can easily find SSIDs for networks in other ways, however, so this only serves to prevent casual users from finding a network. Using MAC filtering is also frequently suggested for wireless security, but this is also easily circumvented by hackers using basic packet sniffing programs.

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