Do you have a wireless network? Are you sure it’s secure? If you do and you aren’t, you should definitely keep reading and find out why you need to secure your wireless network and how you can do it.
So, why should you secure your wireless network? Unless you use some older wireless technologies, like Bluetooth (whose access is limited by physical proximity to the corporate network), you probably have one with long range connectivity that can’t be contained within an office meaning anyone within range of your network can gain access. If you happen to have this kind of network which hasn’t been secured, you could have hackers capturing the information you send back and forth. This could mean effects that range from simple to devastating for you. Some of them are:
- Slower access: If you have additional users on your network, especially those who may be downloading and uploading content, you will have slower internet access.
- Data usage overages: Your monthly data usage may be limited by your ISP. Unwanted users can cause your account to be in violation of those limits.
- Breach of privacy: You could have hackers stealing info being passed back and forth which means access to passwords, financial records, customer information, private data, and much more.
- Illegal traffic: Unwanted users may access your network for illegal Internet activity and you’ll be the one in legal trouble.
Now that you’ve come to know what the effects of leaving your network unsecure are, it’s time you learned about securing it too. And when it comes to securing a wireless network, encryption is the name of the game. The most important security measure for a wireless network, encryption scrambles the information you send to the internet or to your wireless printer making it unreadable to outsiders. Encryption means creating a difficult network password (you may also call it an encryption code or passphrase) and there are different methods of encryption. Not all of them are secure, though. Here are some of them:
- WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy): Although not considered secure, you might have to opt for this basic level of encryption if you have an old wireless printer (which only supports WEP). This calls for lowering the level of security for your entire network to WEP and connecting your printer using an Ethernet or USB cable. However, you can always choose to upgrade your printer which lets you go for better protection.
If you want to create a WEP password, and a strong one at that, make it a case-sensitive password using 10-58 digits (use the numbers 0-9 and the letters A-F).
- WPA and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access): Considered safer than WEP, WPA and WPA2 are the preferred methods of encryption, which use passwords and passphrases. But wait! What’s the difference between a password and a passphrase?
It’s simple; a password is generally one grouping of letters, numbers, and/or punctuation without spaces whereas a passphrase contains spaces too and is usually longer than a password (a passphrase is more like a sentence).
For a strong WPA or WPA2 password, make it a case-sensitive one that uses at least 13 characters, including upper- and lowercase letters, punctuation, and numbers. Include spaces if you’re going to make it a paraphrase. Remember, by including spaces, a passphrase is much harder to break than a password. Having trouble creating a strong password? You can turn to online sites that generate random passwords for you!