How To Secure Your Home Wireless Network: Part I

Here's a chapter right out of <i><b>Home Network Security Simplified</i></b> that you'll end up showing to every member of your family. It's an easy-to-follow explanation of how to make sure that your home network is secure--why it's important, and amazingly, how few of us actually do it.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 7, 2007

3 Min Read

We are always amazed when we drive through a neighborhood and check how people have deployed their wireless networks. On one dive recently, we easily found 114 wireless routers, only 45 (roughly 40 percent) of which were protected in any fashion. From such a scan, potential intruders can easily obtain a survey of the available wireless networks, their service set identifiers (SSIDs), channel numbers, and most important, which networks have been secured and which have been left wide open (roughly 60%).

In Figure 1, the networks with a circle and a padlock inside indicated that they are at least using encryption. The circles without a padlock are wide open. Anyone can sit on the street near these houses (or businesses), associate to the access point, and access the Internet or try to break into the rest of the home network. Tools that perform these kinds of searches are free and easy to find and use.

Figure 1. Example of scanning for wireless networks in a neighborhood

Several of the unsecured sites shown in Figure 1 are in the same condition that your wireless router is in when you take it out of the box. In other words, these people took their router out of the box, hooked it up, and started using it without enabling wireless security. It is great for getting up and running fast, but if you do not take a few minutes to secure your router (and it really only takes a few minutes), you could be asking for trouble.

Next: What do I do about wireless security?

About the Authors
Jim Doherty is the director of marketing and programs with Symbol Technologies' industry solutions group. Before Symbol, Jim worked at Cisco Systems, where he led various marketing campaigns for IP telephony and routing switching solutions. Jim holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from N.C. State University and an M.B.A. from Duke University.

Neil Anderson is a senior manager in enterprise systems engineering at Cisco Systems and is currently responsible for large corporate customers in the areas of routing and switching, wireless, security, and IP communications. Neil holds a bachelor's degree in computer science.

To contact either author, please email: [email protected] and use Home Network Security Simplified/post question as the subject line.

Title: Home Network Security Simplified ISBN: 1-58720-163-1 Authors: Jim Doherty, Neil Anderson Chapter 2: Tip 2: Secure Your Wireless Network Published by Cisco Press

Reproduced from the book Home Network Security Simplified. Copyright [2006], Cisco Systems, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., 800 East 96th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240. Written permission from Pearson Education, Inc. is required for all other uses.

*Visit Cisco Press for a detailed description and to learn how to purchase this title. Next: What do I do about wireless security?

Another article by the same authors: Voice over IP--The Basics

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