How Many Possible Combinations Of 3 Digits 0-9 Security Code Why Most Wireless Network Security Advice Doesn’t Really Work

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Why Most Wireless Network Security Advice Doesn’t Really Work

Almost every day I read articles about wireless networks and what can be done to make them more secure. Usually I get a couple of lines and then don’t read any more. This is because the advice in most of these articles is a waste of time. Don’t worry though because there are things you can do to make it less uncomfortable and better.

I’ll go over what you need to do, but first I’ll repeat what you may have read elsewhere and tell you why it doesn’t help:

THINGS THAT CAN NEVER BE DONE

Turning off SSID broadcast: It is often misleadingly called “SSID hiding”, but there is no such thing. This turns off the SSID beaconing of your Wireless Access Point or wireless router, but there are other mechanisms that also broadcast the SSID of the wireless network and that’s why you disabled only 1 of the many. Turning off SSID broadcast will make your network less user-friendly and won’t do anything meaningful for network security.

MAC filtering: It’s often talked about as a security mechanism and it can be used to prevent neighbors from using your broadband, but encryption is a great way to achieve that and more. The problem with MAC filtering is that it can be difficult to set up and maintain and the MAC address of your wireless card can be seen in the header of all wireless packets to and from your PC by anyone with a “sniffer” (a little traffic capturing software you can get for free on the Internet). MAC address spoofing and access is easy. It’s really not worth the trouble to configure it.

Disable DHCP: Another huge waste of time. DHCP allows automatic assignment of IP addresses and other configurations. Many articles advise disabling DHCP and configuring static IP addresses on “more security”. It takes a hacker about 10 seconds to figure out the IP scheme of any network and just assign their own IP address. Like turning off the SSID broadcast you are making your life difficult for no reason. Anyone who tells you this is a way to secure your wireless network doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to improve the security of your wireless network. Here are three simple steps to improve wireless security:

Step 1 – Password protect your router

If you have a wireless or broadband router then it should allow you to access its config through a Web browser. To access your router’s setup, open a browser and enter the routers setup URL. The URL will be set in the manual that came with the router.

The manual will also specify the default login details for your router. The problem here is that it means everyone knows what the default is so you have to change it. Once logged in it’s usually easy to find the config link to change the password.

If for any reason you don’t have a manual for your router then you can search the Internet using the term “default login for x”. Don’t be surprised to find many pages listing the default login parameters for many different routers, even the unusual ones.

Step 2 – Disable access to the router from the Internet

If your router has an option then disable accessing the router configuration from the Internet. This means that you can still log into the router to change the configuration from your internal network, but no one from the Internet can log in.

Step 3 – Add strong encryption

You need to encrypt your wireless network…real. Read that passage again if you want, it’s important. Furthermore, it is very important to use WPA encryption rather than WEP. WEP is better than no encryption, but it can be cracked in minutes and the tools to do it are readily available.

If you have Windows XP (you should apply the free SP2 update if you haven’t already) and a new router or access point then you should have WPA enabled. Use a long key as much as you can to make it useful and difficult to guess. A random combination of hexadecimal characters (numbers 0-9 and letters AF) works best.

For more on configuring encryption see your router or access point manual.

Businesses should consider using WPA2 in conjunction with a strong authentication method such as RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service), but this is not available in most home kit.

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