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WIRELESS NETWORK SECURITY

Disclaimer - The actions to perform the hints in these documents reflect the steps you would take to accomplish the action in Microsoft Windows 98. The steps vary slightly for Windows 95, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Microsoft seems to change the location of these tools with each operating system.

Editing the registry is for those that KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Guardian Geek takes no responsibility should you decide to edit the registry and screw things up.

SECURE YOUR WIRELESS NETWORK
If you don't take steps, it's childs play for your next-door neighbor to jump on your wireless network, hog your bandwidth and nose through all of your files.

How do you stop this? Simple. Just take the following steps:

Remove any sharing you don't need. Go to Control panel > Network, click File and Print Sharing, and shut off any sharing you don't need.

PASSWORD PROTECT ALL SHARED RESOURCES
Enable WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) at your 802.11b Access Point. You will need to consult the documentation to find out how to change the WEP key. And while you're at it, make it something more difficult than your dog's name.

PASSWORDS AND KEYS
To make a strong password or key, take a phrase and use the first letters of each word. Usually there is at least one word in the phrase that you can substitute a non-alphabetic character. Some examples are "4" for the word "for" or "four", and "&" for "and". One of my old passwords, "Lcspf32m", came from the punchline of a Bizarro comic (see the fun page) of a highway sign stating "Last Correctly Spelled Sign for 32 Miles".

You can rapidly type in your password while silently repeating the phrase. If you are more paranoid, combine two phrases for an doubly secure password.

STOP SHOUTING
Make sure your wireless access point isn't broadcasting its service set identifier (SSID), which will prevent most cards from even finding your network.

STRONG ENCRYPTION
Be sure to use 128-bit encryption, if possible, and if you're using a bridged network, with wireless and wired components, consider keeping them separate so that machines on the wireless network can't access resources on the wired network.

LOCKDOWN THE CONFIGURATION MENU
Check your access point's configuration to ensure that it prohibits cllients from using "any" as the SSID. Restrict access to only known MAC hardware addresses, then limit access to the configuration menu by using a strong password, and, if possible, allow only local, wired access to it.

ROTATE THE KEYS
Most access points allow you to enter multiple keys, usually four. Make up four strong keys, fill in the blanks, and (here's the important part) regularly switch to the next key.

WAP configuration
The "Default Key" dropdown menu allows you to rapidly change WEP keys.

UPDATE THE FIRMWARE
Check with your access point manufacturer for updated firmware that closes known security holes. Many companies, such as Apple, Linksys, and others, have shipped crucial security updates for their hardware.

ONE LAST THING
And take down that wireless cam. Most broadcast in analog mode, so anyone with equipment capable of receiving wireless signals can eavesdrop. No one wants to watch you dancing in your skivvys, doing your best "Tom Cruise - Risky Business" impression.

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