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What You Should Know About WiFi Security

November 14, 2018 No Comments

SOURCE: The NetSpot Team

WiFi networks are here to stay. The convenience and flexibility they offer make them extremely appealing for both home and business implementations. If you are responsible for the wireless network in your home or office you need to be concerned with WiFi security.

Wireless networks are inherently more vulnerable than traditional wired networks. They can be attacked from a distance with no warning until a break-in occurs. The same flexibility that makes WiFi popular is also its most dangerous characteristic. Anyone within range of your signal can conceivably access your network.

Protecting your network is a critical task that should not be overlooked. Taking some fairly simple steps, you can secure your network from hackers and unauthorized users.

What are the Types of WiFi Network Security?

Your main defense when protecting your WiFi is through WiFi encryption. There are several different security protocols you can use that offer varying levels of security. The security is implemented using algorithms for encryption and data integrity.

WEP – Wired Equivalent Privacy

This is the original security protocol that was used when WiFi was first made available in 1997. It is difficult to configure and relatively easy to crack using WiFi sniffing techniques. WEP is better than no security, but should only be used as a last resort.

WPA – WiFi Protected Access

The next step in the evolution of WiFi security improved data integrity by switching to the Message Integrity Check (MIC) algorithm to replace the previously used and weaker CRC32 use in WEP. It also offers stronger encryption that makes it harder to crack a WPA password.

WPA2 – WiFi Protected Access II

In this protocol, both data integrity and encryption are based on the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). WPA2 provides your network with significantly enhanced security over WEP or WPA. It is the highest level of security that is commonly available today.

WPA3 – WiFi Protected Access III

On the horizon is another upgrade in WiFi Network security that is set to roll out beginning in late 2018. It offers some major improvements in the way a passphrase is handled and provides for more complex encryption. Using WPA3 security will allow for encryption of public network connections, further protecting users’ data.

Threats to WiFi Networks

WiFi is a prime target for hackers and individuals trying to gain unauthorized access to your network and data. The major vulnerabilities can be minimized by using the strongest network security protocol that your equipment can handle.

Hackers using tools such as WiFi sniffers can perform brute-force attacks against your network in attempts to compromise your password and gain access to your system. As long as they can receive your WiFi signal they can be located anywhere, making it difficult to know when an attack is underway.

In addition to actually gaining access to your network, data packets transmitted wirelessly can be intercepted and used for nefarious reasons. If you are not using strong encryption, the contents of these packets are available to anyone who can capture the packets, posing a serious threat that demands you protect your data.

Another issue that can pose a problem for your WiFi network is the presence of rogue access points. This can be a real issue for business networks and can be mitigated by conducting a thorough WiFi site survey. Performing this kind of analysis of your network with a quality WiFi troubleshooting tool such as NetSpot can help you locate and eliminate rogue access points and keep your WiFi signal contained to within your building

How to secure WiFi Networks

There are a number of steps that you can take to secure your WiFi network. Among them are:

- Change the default credentials – This should the first action you take with all of your network’s peripheral equipment. Default passwords for network equipment can be easily obtained through web searches. Failure to change them is like leaving your front door wide open.

- Use strong encryption – Insist on network equipment that supports the WPA2 security protocol if at all possible. It offers the best protection until WPA3 becomes widely available.

- Maintain hardware and router firmware – It is vital that you keep your network equipment up to date by installing the most recent firmware from the manufacturers.

- Use a strong password – The main password that you use to secure your network should not be trivial and should consist of at least 12 alphanumeric characters to minimize the possibility that it can be hacked by a brute-force attack.

- Search for rogue access points – As mentioned above, analyzing your network with NetSpot or another WiFi surveying tool will enable you to find rogue access points and shut them down.

WiFi networks pose risks to your personal and business data that can be mitigated by maintaining vigilant security practices. It’s in your best interest to do all you can to protect your information from the prying eyes of unauthorized individuals.



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