How To Protect Your Wi-Fi Network

Wi-Fi networking is common in today’s business environment, allowing for greater flexibility in establishing workstations and giving guests access to the Internet while on the office premises. how to protect your wifi Because of the broadcasted nature of the Wi-Fi signal, however, it’s essential to secure your Wi-Fi network. Just as an unsecured Wi-Fi network is one that is susceptible to hacking, a Wi-Fi that isn’t properly secured leaves your company information vulnerable to attacks.

Wi-Fi devices are shipped from the manufacturer with security disabled, which makes it easy to set up your network. Once you’ve gotten your network up and running, however, taking the following steps will help to secure your network from all manner of threats.

  1. Change the default network name (SSID) and credentials (username and password)
    In order to make accessing your Wi-Fi device’s configuration settings easy, Wi-Fi equipment ships with a default network name and credentials. Changing these will make your system easy to identify and will deter unauthorized users from accessing your network.
  2. Enable WPA2 security
    WEP security isn’t secure. In order to maximize the security of your Wi-Fi, you must use WPA or WPA2 security.
  3. Strong encryption
    An encrypted password for your WPA should be long and varied – ten characters or more, consisting of upper and lowercase letters, digits, and symbols. Since this password will not be entered on a regular basis, creating something easily remembered isn’t necessary. Make it complicated, and avoid using real words or phrases. And as an added measure of security, change the password on a regular basis.
  4. Implement 802.11i
    The extensible authentication protocol (EAP) mode of WPA and WPA2 security uses 802.1X authentication instead of pre-shared keys (PSKs), allowing each user to access the network via a login consisting of a username and password. The advantage of this is that the actual encryption takes place in the background, and in order to change or revoke user access all that needs to be done is to modify the login credentials on a central server.
  5. Use a Wireless Intrusion Prevention System
    Direct access to your network isn’t the only way hackers attempt to gain entry. Other methods of disruption include the setup of rogue access points or denial of service attacks. A wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) monitors and detects this type of activity.
  6. Update your firmware
    Firmware is the software that runs on the wireless access point. Firmware manufacturers regularly update this software, mostly to address security issues, making it especially important to install these updates as they become available.
  7. Physically secure your equipment
    While a large portion of Wi-Fi security is concerned with technology and encryption, don’t overlook the physical security of your wireless access points. Equipment that is easily accessible can be reset to factory settings, undoing all your security measures and leaving your network open and vulnerable.

While Wi-Fi networks have become the norm for business environments today, it’s difficult to make a network ironclad. At the root of network security is the idea that network access should be more trouble than it’s worth for unauthorized users. Remember, a secure network helps to protect company and client data from unwanted access, and any breach exposing this sort of information can seriously compromise financial health of your business.

{photo used under Creative Commons from 47941176@N00 – flickr}