With wireless WIFI devices flying off the shelves, it seems that this is one of the few technologies that really appears "hot" with both consumers and business users today.

    While the benefits of running a wireless network are many, an issue often overlooked is that of security.

    When you begin to transmit your network communications through the same radio frequencies used by many cordless phones, it's important to realize that special security considerations need to be addresses.

    If you're running a wireless network, be sure to drag out the manuals that came with your equipment and implement the following steps to enhance your wireless defense:

    1. Change Administration Passwords - While this really applies to any network device (wireless or not) it's especially important with WIFI equipment that you change the default log in and password for your for wireless base stations and other devices. Too many users leave both of these set to "Admin" (or whatever their device came with) and these are obviously well know among those who might endeavor to break into your network.
    2. Change Your SSID (Service Set ID) - Simply put, the SSID is the name you assign to the wireless network that you create. Windows will usually establish standard defaults that are very easy to guess, such as MSHOME or MSOFFICE. Be sure to choose anything that's different, and it is best that you don't select an obvious choice that can be easily guessed, such as your last name or company name.
    3. Enable WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) - While most all wireless equipment supports WEP encryption, in order to make configuring a WIFI network as easy as possible, it's seldom enabled by default. While it's not the ultimate in security, it's much, much better than none at all.
    4. Upgrade to WPA (WIFI Protected Access) - Newer WIFI devices support this more advanced security standard and it should be enabled whenever possible. If you have an older device, check with the manufacture's web site as it just may be upgradeable to support WPA.
    5. Limit MAC (Media Access Control) addresses - Rather than allowing any WIFI antenna access to your network with just the appropriate password, you can also specify access by individual devices. As MAC addresses are somewhat like serial numbers, this means that you can further protect your WIFI network so that a user must not only have the correct password, but also an individual and specific WIFI antenna.

    While none of these steps will guarantee protection from intrusion, the more of them you implement, the safer your WIFI network will be.

    Fortunately, with so many installed networks implementing none of these precautions, making your system just a little bit tougher to crack than your neighbor's is often all the protection you need.


    Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale