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An ITS ‘Tech Tip” on Wireless Security

Very few people would leave a phone jack or cable-TV connection outside their homes for strangers to stop by and use. But that is exactly what you do with your Internet connection when wireless is installed and not secured.

By not setting up security on your home wireless networks, you allow unauthorized use of your Internet connection and easy access for computers on your home network. The good news is that you don’t have to be a network-security whiz to put some basic precautions in place.

The big misconception is that the signal stays within or within a few feet of your house. Today’s wireless access points can reach up to 1,800 feet and extend past your property markers and into the street and maybe even into your neighbor’s house. While no system is ever completely fail-safe, here are four steps to providing security to your system from Chris Hurley, an Internet security professional.

1. Change the SSID The SSID is the name of your network. By not changing it, you are announcing that the system is straight out of the box with the default settings in place.

2. Enable WEP/WPA WEP is a security protocol for wireless and built into all modern access points. It does have some flaws, but is much better then nothing. If your access point supports WPA, turn that on and use a 40-character password.

3. Enable MAC filtering Each network device has a unique code assigned to it called the MAC address. By finding out the MAC address of your equipment, you can tell your system exactly what equipment you want to attach to your network.

4. Disable SSID broadcasting Common network scanners cannot see a network if it’s not broadcasting its presence.

One last step that you may want to take if you are feeling network savvy: disable DHCP. DHCP automatically assigns an address to network devices. By turning off DHCP and manually assigning addressing, you are adding another layer of security to your system.

An archive of ITS “Tech Tips” can be found here .

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