Thursday, Jul 19, 2018
Sponsored by: ||
Note: This article is more than 60 days old, and may contain outdated information, such as the dates and times of events. These dates and times may vary from year to year.
Securing your Wireless Network
Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2006
By: Dave Retz (Expired article)Solvang, CA -
With the advent of low-cost wireless routers, everyone is jumping on the wireless bandwagon. (I was in CompUSA today, and they’re selling wireless routers for $29.95 – less expensive than one trip to Disneyland!). With a fast DSL or cable connection, the wireless router option is really tempting.
But read further!
A wireless router is a device (smaller than a breadbox) that connects your computer to the Internet via a wireless network (DSL or Cable). What’s wireless? It’s what you use when you pick up your hand-held phone. You take it for granted that you are securely communicating. Usually, you’re pretty secure on a spread-spectrum voice phone of today’s standards. Believe it or not - a computer on a local wireless network is less secure than a hand-held phone: it lets everyone within range get connected, whether it's Sally’s girlfriend or Chat Room to Sally’s leatherfriend. Or, ... Sally's next-door neighbor.
The wireless Internet connection isn’t really secure. Why? Because, it’s designed to let a bunch of users connect to the Internet using the same local router (i.e., DSL or cable connection), allowing Sally in the upper bedroom to chat with her girl-friends; allowing mom to place orders on eBay; allowing dad to do stock market quotations … all in the same house.
But wait; there’s more!
Sylvester, the slime-ball next door, is getting online without you knowing it; he's using up your Internet bandwidth downloading music and videos; Juaquin, a slick email-marketer, is parked outside your driveway and using your connection to blast emails to his customers; and endless neighbors are bragging about "free" Internet service because "their router picks up your router ...!".
And, here's a real “gotcha”: the small coffee shop that installs a wireless router to allow people to get online lets visitors send mass emails (SPAM) and block the coffee shop from the Internet in a short period of time; or, someone sends threatening emails to the President, and the coffee shop gets a visit from the Secret Service; a techno-geek sitting in the parking lot outside the coffee shop runs a “sniffer” program, monitoring all traffic on the wireless network and capturing email addresses AND passwords for further activity on the victim's eBay or PayPal sites.
A friend of mine went online in Salt Lake City at the airport using the general wireless network provided locally (a "Hot-Spot"). He checked his mail and browsed the web for a few minutes. Unfortunately, he was “sniffed” by computers on the same network, and was quickly graced by a virus which disabled his system, requiring a complete re-load of the operating system (Windows XP).
Here’s the bottom line: if you use a wireless network, make sure it’s encrypted (protected). That means, you need a wireless encryption password using the WEP protocol to access the network. DO NOT use a public wireless network, without having been given (in advance) a password!
If you install your own wireless router in your house or office, DO enable WEP. Of course, this requires you to enable WEP on each of the workstations or lap-tops. Many coffee-shops or restaurants are getting smart and enabling WEP. They will give you the WEP password to get online. This is also a business opportunity for restaurants and coffee shops: they can charge for the secure code (which might change every so often.) (Note: larger companies, such as Starbucks, have dealt with this problem and offer a monthly subscription service that completely alleviates the problem described here.)
The process of using WEP may seem an inconvenience; it’s a bit less than having to re-install Windows XP.
SYV-Online.COM, Published by Comware International Inc.
P.O. Box 410
Solvang, CA 93464
The phone number below is for news stories and feedback for THIS (syv-online.com) website. To reach one of our sponsors or an individual or company mentioned in an article,
please locate their website or click on their banner. Call their phone
number - NOT this one!|
For syv-online.com website feedback only:
Add Your URL: If
you're located in the Santa Ynez Valley, you may submit your URL for
addition to our links page by contacting our
Please list your company name, address, phone, e-mail, URL, and a
short description of your business/service in your correspondence.
© Copyright 1996 - 2014 Comware International, Inc.
Serving Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Los Alamos, and
Comware International, Inc. - Solvang, California