Does Your Wireless Network Have These Steps Implemented?

While most organizations these days have a wireless network, many are not taking the proper steps to secure it. Now, more than ever, wireless security is important, as hackers are frequently trying to access and steal organizations’ private information.

The Federal Communications Commission’s Tips

For some simple tips on wireless network security, read the following from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.

  • Turn the encryption on. Wireless routers often come out of the box with the encryption feature disabled, so be sure to check that encryption is turned on shortly after you or your service provider installs the router. 
  • Change the network's default network name, also known as its service set identifier or "SSID."  When a computer with a wireless connection searches for and displays the wireless networks nearby, it lists each network that publicly broadcasts its SSID. Manufacturers usually give all of their wireless routers a default SSID, which is often the company's name. It is a good practice to change your network's SSID, but to protect your privacy do not use personal information such as the names of family members.
  • Change the network's default password. Most wireless routers come with preset passwords for administering a device's settings (this is different from the password used to access the wireless network itself). Unauthorized users may be familiar with the default passwords, so it is important to change the router device's password as soon as it is installed. Again, longer passwords made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols are more secure.

Four More Tips

The following is from a PC World article.

Use only WPA2 encryption

The unidirectional nature of Wi-Fi signals necessitates the use of encryption to prevent neighbors or malicious parties from spying on your online activities. Even though the option is still available for legacy reasons, avoid WEP encryption as it can be cracked in minutes. Use only WPA2, which introduces a new AES-based encryption for better security over WPA. There’s really no excuse not to: Every Wi-Fi router bearing the Wi-Fi trademark today supports it, as does every wireless device and Wi-Fi adapter card made in the last few years.

Disable WPS

If your Wi-Fi router supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), disable it. Created as a user-friendly way for users to add new devices to their network, the WPS PIN is an 8-digit number printed on the label of WPS-enabled devices. Depending on vendor implementation, however, it is likely to be susceptible to brute force attacks.

An attacker can crack the PIN code of a vulnerable device with between four to 10 hours of automated effort, which would allow them to recover your secret passphrase and make changes to your Wi-Fi hardware.

Set up a guest network

It would be bad form to deny friends and relatives access to your Wi-Fi network when they’re visiting. But circulating the static passphrase to everyone is bad security. Instead, set up a separate wireless network under a second SSID, a feature supported by an increasing number of wireless routers. Having a separate network for guests allows you to routinely change the passphrase without affecting your own devices. You can even disable it entirely when not in use.

Disallow admin access from wireless network

You may not be able to keep a determined hacker out, but you don’t have to make his job easier. Disallowing administrative access from the wireless network should keep any successful hacker from wreaking further havoc by making changes to the configuration of your Wi-Fi router. Obviously, this means that any tweaks to your Wi-Fi router would have to be done from a desktop or laptop on your wired local area network. But the added protection is worth the hassle.

Though this isn’t meant as an exhaustive guide to protect yourself against all possible security risks of a Wi-Fi network, adhering to the above tips should make you significantly safer. Ultimately, if security is paramount sticking to a wired ethernet network may be your best bet yet.

More to Consider

All of these suggestions are good steps to take to having a secure and safe wireless network. We also recommend the Fortinet line of firewalls. It’s one thing to have encryption and a strong network password, but a firewall enhances security and can block unauthorized access to your network.

Is your organization’s wireless network secure? 

Cybersecurity and Cyberattack Stats

Mike Wallen

Mike Wallen is a Business Solutions Manager at Aureon Technology. Mike is enthusiastic and passionate about helping small to medium-sized businesses eliminate the hassle, waste, and headaches of all things technology in their business to create a worry-free environment. Mike has 15+ years of experience in IT, with a focus on healthcare, law firms, nonprofits/charity, and general small to medium-sized business. He believes in listening to his clients' needs first, then aligning those business needs with business processes and technology solutions. Mike considers himself a true business efficiency and technology architect. Aureon Technology provides end to end IT and communications solutions and has locations throughout the Midwest including Des Moines, Omaha, and Kansas City. Aureon strives to take care of your technology and back office needs so you can focus on what you do best.

Published

February 22, 2017

Posted by

Mike Wallen

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