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Attached is an article from my ISP that I thought might be useful to members interested in wireless security.

The only points I would add to it are:

  1. Get a Software Firewall than allows you to "untrust" the Local Area Connection. This is the same setting users should use in airports with Laptops and there is no good reason IMHO to ever have any other setting for any LAN anywhere.
  2. On the PSW's for the router find out the maximum size and syntax for the users name and the PSW and use a PSW generator to create them both randomly. Record these on a separate media ( dvd/cd?) from your PC.

Enjoy!

Andrew Steer said:
Keeping your wireless Internet connection safe and secure

Tech Mate techyAndrew Steer, a.k.a. "The Trouble Ticket Guy", likes helping others. Seriously, he gets paid by rrrrrrr to do it. So visit Tech Mates often and take advantage of his extensive expertise.

I recently received a call from lllll a customer living in downtown xxxxxxx. lllll had just purchased a wireless network router so she could connect all three of her computers to her Hi-Speed Internet connection. A lady after my own heart, llllll had successfully followed her router manufacturer's instructions to connect her router to her xxxxxxxx cable modem.

She managed to connect her main desktop computer to the wireless router without incident. So far, so good. Her problems began when she attempted to wirelessly connect her laptop (which had a built-in wireless card) to her new network.

"I really need your help," lllllllll began. "I can't seem to make this work with a wireless connection. The desktop was a breeze, but the laptop isn't working."

"When I open the 'View Available Wireless Networks' list from the icon in my system tray [that little group of icons beside the current time at the bottom right of your Windows desktop], I see about 10 different network names -- all of them say 'Unsecured Wireless Network' -- Which one is mine?"

After figuring out that llllllll lived in a condo, I explained why she was able to see so many wireless networks. People just don't take the time to secure their routers, or run into problems trying and eventually give up. lllllll asked why it was so important so I said "First things first, let's get your laptop connected to your new wireless network, and then we can talk about security."

I also explained that lllllllll could connect her third computer to her network by visiting our technical support website for great step-by-step tips on connecting both wired and wireless computers. You can visit that site by clicking here.

Now, let's talk about Security. Unsecured home networks are a problem that I see with increased regularity as more and more of our customers enjoy the freedom of wireless Internet connections. The scary thing is that most people don't view it as problem. After all, it's quicker and often easier to ignore the security set-up steps on their wireless routers. In fact, without going through the pain of setting up security, you can simply pull your new wireless router out of the box (most routers have security turned off by default), connect it your High-Speed Internet connection and start surfing -- all your computers will be able to connect to the router, no problem, except if you want to secure your personal information stored on your computer that is.

I explained that, unfortunately, many Wi-Fi network routers make it difficult and time consuming to set up security features. That said, setting up an insecure wireless Internet connection in your home is just asking for trouble. You wouldn't leave your front door open and rely on the honesty of your neighbours and passers-by to stay out of your home. Similarly, you shouldn't leave your wireless network open to anyone within range looking for an Internet connection, especially these days.

As long as an unsecured Wireless Internet Connection is in range:

* Wi-Fi Freeloaders can connect to your Internet connection using the Internet service that you pay good money for every month and consume your bandwidth.

* These same Wi-Fi freeloaders could also use your connection for illegal activities (and if the police come knocking on your door, it'll be your responsibility to prove that you had nothing to do with those illegal activities).

* And, of course, there's the information that you transmit over the Internet -- it's much easier for someone to intercept data (such as passwords or anything you type onto a webpage) if your network is insecure. Do you bank online? Think about it...

I hate to sound like a scare-monger, but these are risks that you should be aware of.

Now that I've scared you senseless, it's time for the good news: You can avoid these scenarios by setting up security on your Wireless router.

Your router probably came with security disabled. So the first thing to do is check out the security section in its user manual. There are so many routers on the market it's hard to generalize, but here's a brief overview of what you'll need to do (but be sure to consult the detailed steps in your wireless router's user manual):

1. Access your router's settings screen
This is usually done through a Web-browser like Internet Explorer. Instead of entering a standard Webpage address, you enter the numeric address (IP address) of your router -- for example 192.168.0.1. In most cases, you'll be asked to provide a Username and Password. If you haven't changed it (which you should as explained below!), your router will have a default Username and Password which you'll find in its user manual.

Once you've signed into your router's settings screen:

2. Change your default SSID
SSID is short for Service Set Identifier and simply acts as a means to identify your wireless router -- making it easier to find in the list of available wireless connections. Router manufacturers provide default SSIDs -- for example, Linksys routers will use the name 'linksys' by default for their SSID. You should change the SSID to something that will help you identify your router but avoid something too personal like your name or address. Although changing your SSID won't provide much security, it's better than using the default SSID. When someone sees a default SSID like 'linksys' in the list of available networks -- it's a sure tip-off that the owner doesn't know much about wireless security making it an easy target to connect to or attack.

3. Turn on Encryption
All Wi-Fi routers have some form of encryption that you can enable. Encryption scrambles the information that's transmitted between your computer and your wireless router. This scrambled information can only be descrambled when your computer and wireless router are using the same encryption code (called a key). Without the key, computers can't connect to your wireless router. You will be prompted to provide this key when you click "Connect" on the View Available Wireless Networks screen on the computer you wish to connect wirelessly to your router. Typically, you only need to enter this key once and your computer will remember it in the future.

There are two main types of Encryption available on most routers:

WEP (short for Wired Equivalent Privacy ) was one of the first wireless encryption technologies employed. Typing in a WEP key can often be cumbersome and is prone to errors as you'll need to enter a very long string of text to connect to your router. More importantly, because it's been around so long, WEP encryption is relatively easy for a hacker to crack --- making it the least secure encryption technology available. If your computer and router support WPA encryption (described below), use it instead.

WPA (short for Wi-Fi Protected Access) is a newer, more secure encryption technology and it's also much more convenient as you can use an easy-to-remember passphrase as your encryption key (the more random letters and numbers in your passphrase, the more secure it is!). There are two flavours of WPA: Basic WPA and WPA2 (which is the most recent and therefore most secure wireless encryption -- if your router supports it, use WPA2).

4. Change your router's default Administrator Username and Password
In step 1 above, you likely accessed your router's connection settings by using a default username and password -- which are well known to hackers and also well-documented on the Internet. Change your Username and Password so that only you, the rightful owner of the router, can access and modify the settings.
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Good tips, you should never use WEP security. ;) Here are some more general security tips.

[WEBQUOTE=http://techguylabs.com/radio/ShowNotes/Show319#toc3
]Five Things to Do to Protect Yourself

1. Don’t open email attachments; even if it’s from someone you know. If you do get something from someone you know, make sure that they really sent it to you.

2. Don’t click links in email. That link could lead you to a phishing site, or the link may lead you to install malicious software. Copy and paste links instead. You can avoid this if you disable HTML email. Use plain text email.

3. Don’t download files from places you aren’t absolutely sure are safe. Stick with the well known sites.

4. Update regularly! There are problems with software that occur. If there’s a patch out, you better apply it. Even MySpace can infect you. There was once a banner ad that had malicious code that took advantage of an Internet Explorer flaw that Microsoft had already patched. However, over a million people still got infected.

5. It is absolutely necessary to have a firewall. The best firewall is a hardware firewall: your router. It keeps your system clean of worms. There are worms that are network viruses. If you don’t have a firewall on the Net, the worms will get you right away. You can also turn on the Windows or OSX firewall. [/WEBQUOTE]
 
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