Strategies for Wireless Network Security
At Bay Area Computer Solutions, we make IT management, network security, and managed IT solutions the basis of our business. We work hard at utilizing IT security policies and procedures to maintain physical server safety and using the best anti-virus practices to ensure network resolve. We can’t determine what websites you visit, how you protect your internal server closet, or maintain total control over your outgoing wireless network. That being said, we do have a few tips on how to maintain IT security by protecting your wireless network.
Encryption is Mandatory
The first and most mandatory form of wireless network security is encryption via the WPA2 networking protocol. WPA2, Wi-Fi Protected Access, is the wireless security protocol which enables only certain parties’ to have access to your network. WPA2 governs the most basic, yet most necessary wireless security elements: user IDs, passwords and IP management. Without WPA2, your wireless network security will be compromised by everything and anything.
Speaking of Passwords
Every networking device – routers, modems, switches – comes with a factory installed password. The factory installed password is meant as a placeholder, not a long term password, and the manufacturer expects for it to be changed upon installation. Changing the factory installed password means accessing the admin controls of the device to change the SSIDs, the admin account security settings, and the guest account credentials. Do not keep the factory installed password. They are far too easy to guess, and leave you deeply vulnerable.
SSID Account Names
The next time you go to coffee shop, an airport or some public venue where wi-fi for a high speed network is provided, do yourself a favor and count how many SSIDs (Service Set Identifier) are factory installed names. We can’t tell you how many times we login into a public network only to see numerous users functioning via SSIDs like “NETGEAR112” or “LINKSYS343”. A factory installed SSID should be changed to protect against outsiders guessing the make of your router and compromising the unchanged original passwords. Don’t believe us? Google “Netgear Factory Password”. You’ll see how important it is to change your SSIDs.
Remove Guest Networking
The next time you purchase a new router, take a look at the guest networking security settings pre-installed at factory. If the router has the guest networking security settings switched on, turn them off. The guest network settings within a router allows for guests to access your router (your network) through an unsecured path. If you are going to spend so much time to build a high speed network and build in stringent IT security, the last thing you want to do is make the simple mistake of allowing outside access to your network because you forgot to turn off guest networking.
Update Your Firmware
While often forgotten, this simple step is necessary. Much like Microsoft will update Word from time to time, so too does your router provider. Companies like Linksys and Netgear periodically update the software which controls their devices. These firmware updates are meant to keep your wireless network hardware up-to-date with the most advanced security protocols and operating procedures. Check your provider’s homepage for firmware updates. They will save your high speed network from outside corruption.
While there are many security procedures you could utilize, these five will get you started. For all of your network security concerns (or for more information about IT solutions, managed IT, or project management services that we provide), Bay Area Computer Solutions would be happy to speak with you! We can provide you with a full IT Security Audit to ensure that any weak spots are found before your network falls into the wrong hands. We can be reached by phone at (650) 887-4601 or you can easily contact us online today.