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Security Wireless Network - Improve the Security of a Wireless Network

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As more and more people begin to rely on wireless networks in their homes and offices to connect to the Internet, questions about the security of a wireless network have begun to arise. There are multiple ways to keep both a computer and personal information safe from outside threats like hackers and identity thieves and improve the security of a wireless network, and understanding how a secure wireless network is set up and operated is important to keeping a computer on a wireless network secure.

The first important step is properly setting up a secure wireless network. When first setting up a wireless network for the home or office, the administrator will be given four options to regulate access to your router: WEP, WPAv1, WPAv2, or Open. Understanding the differences between these forms of protection are vital to ensuring the security of a wireless network.

An open network has no form of password protection and is completely open for any wireless card within range to connect to. This will leave the security of a wireless network compromised and leaves computers and data vulnerable to hackers and thieves. An open network also results in a loss of bandwidth as many unwanted users connect and use up resources, resulting in a dramatic reduction in Internet speed for all users on the network. Due to these reasons, an open network is never suggested for any person looking to guarantee the security of a wireless network.

WEP, or Wireless Equivalent Protection, was the earliest form of network protection and thus is the most vulnerable of all network encryption formats. WEP shares a single key among every user on the network, and a multitude of network cracking tools exist to extract password data from information packets sent by the wireless network to obtain the shared key, giving any intruder full access to the network through the single shared network key.

Due to the vulnerabilities of the WEP encryption protocol, WPAv1 was developed to strengthen the security of a wireless network. WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access, and has proven to be much more successful at deterring outside threats and providing the best security for a wireless network. WPAv1 uses a shared key that is between 8-63 characters long and features many improvements over the WEP system, including TKIP, the Temporary Key Integrity Protocol, that prevents the major downfall of the WEP protocol by preventing the unencrypted transmission of important passkey data in the packets sent by a wireless network.

WPAv2 is very similar to the WPAv1 protocol, the main difference between the two being the lack of the AES-CCMP algorithm in WPAv1 networks. The AES-CCMP algorithm helps replace the TKIP system and ensures an even greater enhancement of the security of a wireless network.

Although the WPAv1 and WPAv2 protocols were able to solve many of the vulnerability issues and issues concerning the security of wireless networks, many users are actually compromising the security of the wireless network by choosing poor passkeys for the network. Hackers and other potential threats to the security of a wireless network can use various digital dictionaries with specialized cracking tools to process thousands of words per minute to obtain passkey information. Since these dictionaries are often used by these cracking tools, it is advised to use a passkey that is not an actual dictionary word as these can can be cracked easily and quickly, compromising the security of a wireless network. Dates of birth, addresses, and other series of numbers are also bad choices for passkeys as cracking tools will also employ lists of numbers and dates to acquire a passkey. Using a random series of letters and numbers and using at least sixteen characters in a passkey is the only way to ensure the security of a passkey and the security of a wireless network.

Using a secure passkey of random numbers and letters and using the most current form of encryption available is the most important step in maintaining the security of a wireless network and ensures that information and bandwidth stay protected.

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