People have written books on security, and reading one is like slow torture. So let’s just talk in general terms and avoid getting bogged down in technical details.
Some people think leaving their wireless unsecured is no big deal, especially people in rural areas. Some people also think they can leave their wireless unsecured because they don’t care if someone else uses their Internet connection. There one MAJOR flaw with that thinking.
There is a practice called “war driving”, where a person drives around, using a wireless device with a boosted antenna, and looks for unsecured – or poorly secured – networks. When they find one, they can get onto the network and explore. This is illegal, by the way, so don’t try it.
The problem is not so much that this person is using your Internet connection… it’s that they also potentially have access to all the devices on your network. They could get access to your files, monitor traffic on the network, and get access to all sorts of information. If you have any employee data, like social security numbers, health records, or payroll, imagine your legal exposure.
Here’s an article about a group who were very successful stealing information (and $750,000) from businesses with poorly secured wireless: http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/attacks/231602047
Security to prevent wireless attacks
Ok – so we need security… what should we be doing? Your wireless access points, or wireless router is where you’ll find the settings for wireless security. You should be running WPA2 encryption. WEP encrypton is not adequate. Make the WPA2 shared key something difficult to guess, like a phrase.
Wireless security is continually changing. Hackers and their tools improve – so do encryption methods. What was “secure” five years ago might not be secure today. Periodically, we need to evaluate our systems and make sure they’re up to current standards.
This is NOT a complete guide to securing your wireless network! A number of the factory defaults should be changed as well. If you’re unsure about setting up wireless, please have someone do it who is familiar with the settings.
If you need help with any of this, call us at 262-720-3668.