Does Your Wireless Network Have These Steps Implemented?

Wireless network security is of utmost importance. Help keep your networks — and your information —secure by taking these steps.

Articles published February 22, 2017 by Steve Simpson

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.

Wireless Security Tips from the FCC

The Federal Communications Commision (FCC) is a great resource for basic network security tips, including those on password and bluetooth security. They list the following three tips, among others, for wireless network security. These simple tips are smart for home or business connectivity.

  • Turn on encryption. 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. A default network name is 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. 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.

Network Security Tips

In addition to FCC best practices, consider taking these additional precautions to enhance your wireless security.

Use only WPA2 encryption

Keep your online activity safe with WPA2 encryption. Designed for home users who don’t have access to the authentication server of an enterprise, WPA2 encryption helps protect your Wi-Fi network from neighbors or malicious parties. WPA2 uses a new Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for more security than WPA, and is far more secure than the legacy WEP encryption which can be easily cracked. These days, every Wi-Fi router with the Wi-Fi trademark as well as every wireless device and Wi-Fi adapter card made in the last few years has WPA2 as an option.

Disable WPS

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) was created as an easy way to add new devices to a wireless network, but WPS-enabled devices can be susceptible to brute force attacks. For this reason, we strongly recommend disabling WPS on your Wi-Fi router. The WPS PIN — an 8-digit number printed on the label of WPS-enabled devices — can be cracked in as little as four hours. Once this occurs, hackers can recover your secret passphrase and make changes to your Wi-Fi hardware.

Set up a guest wireless network

It’s become commonplace to share your Wi-Fi with guests, and that includes sharing your wireless password. Since a widely shared password is bad security, we recommend setting up a guest wireless network under a second SSID, an option supported by an increasing number of wireless routers. Having a guest network in place allows you to turn it on or off for visitors and regularly update the password without it impacting your own devices.

Disallow admin access from wireless network

Wireless routers allow an administrator to manage the network through a designated admin account. The admin account information for many common router manufacturers is readily available online. With the admin account name and password, it is easy for hackers to log in and access the router and get information about connected devices. Prevent this from happening by disallowing administrative access on your wireless network. Doing so means that you won’t be able to make changes to your Wi-Fi router if you’re not wired to your network, but it helps prevent malicious outside activity.

The above network tips are from PC World. Read more here.

Consider a Firewall

All of these suggestions are good steps to take for ensuring a secure and safe wireless network. In addition to encryption and a strong network password, a firewall enhances security and can block unauthorized access to your network. We recommend the Fortinet line of firewalls.

While these tips are by no means an exhaustive guide to wireless network security, adhering to these best practices will make your network, and your information safer.

Is your organization’s wireless network secure?

About The Author

Steve Simpson

Steve Simpson is an experienced Client Advisor at Aureon, where he works with business leaders and technical resources to explore new ideas. For the last 30 years, his efforts have been focused on providing technology services in healthcare, manufacturing, banking, state/local government, and sen ... read more

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