Wireless network technology is revolutionary! Connect a wireless (Wi-Fi) router or access point to your local area network, set up one or more laptop computers with built-in or externally connected wireless network adapters, and you’re free to use the Internet or access resources such as files and printers connected to other computers on your network. You’re no longer tied to a single chair in your home or office.
As with all things, there is a catch, and it can turn out to be a real gotcha if you’re not careful. This caveat is typically almost nonexistent security. The radio signals involved in a wireless computer network can broadcast hundreds of feet outside your home or office. In addition, the default, out of the box, configurations of most access points or routers are wide-open with absolutely no security measures enabled. Most new users of wireless networking technology don’t understand the need for security or they don’t know the procedures to follow in order to make the data on their wireless networks secure. This lack of security brings serious potential consequences to the Wi-Fi user including but certainly not limited to slow Internet connectivity, data loss, financial disaster and identity theft.
The practice of “war driving” involves driving around a particular area seeking out available wireless networks. Once an available network is discovered, various software tools can be used to discover its vulnerabilities, read the data traveling across the network or even gain complete access! Once access to your wireless network has been achieved, an unscrupulous road warrior could do the following:
- Use your wireless network to obtain access to the Internet.
- Steal usernames and passwords for items such as your bank account, instant messaging software or e-mail account.
- Steal valuable personal information such as your credit card numbers and even your Social Security Number!
- Steal your identity!
It is thus absolutely necessary that you apply due diligence to insure the security of your wireless network. Today’s wireless routers and access points provide two security solutions: WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wireless Protected Access). Due to a number of widely known and exploited vulnerabilities, WEP has become essentially useless. A colleague likes to compare WEP to a screen door on a submarine. WPA is much better. The protocol’s encryption is much stronger than WEP and the preshared key is not sent in the clear. This just means that both the data itself and the information used to establish your identity and encrypt your connection is secured and is unavailable to anyone with common hacking software. This version of WPA is known as WPA-PSK (Wireless Protected Access with Pre-Shared Key).
Even WPA is imperfect. The preshared key does not change automatically. It remains static unless you, the user, explicitly change it in both the router / access point and the computers connecting to the network. Though not excessively difficult, this reconfiguration process is not likely to be carried out on a daily basis let alone once every four or six hours as would be recommended for the best possible security. Though WPA is definitely the foundation for a properly secured wireless network, it needs just a bit more assistance. That help is provided by WPA-RADIUS, which adds authentication to your wireless network. Unfortunately, by itself, WPA-RADIUS is not practical for most home and small to medium business users as its implementation and maintenance requires the expertise of a technology professional who can set up and manage an authentication server. Fortunately, one solution completes the wireless security puzzle without the need of an IT staff: WSC Guard from Wireless Security Corporation!
WSC Guard provides the best of all worlds in wireless network security by incorporating the WPA-RADIUS authentication and security protocols in to a single, easy to configure package that requires no ongoing maintenance other than to add or remove those who are allowed to access your network via a simple, accessible web site. WSC provides the following benefits:
- Up and running in 15 minutes or less.
- Professional, highly responsive customer service and technical support.
- Entire solution is accessible to blind users who rely on screen reading or screen magnification technology.
- Quick, one-time configuration of your access point or router for optimal security.
- Quick software installation and username/password login to the network for computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP.
- Easy to understand reporting of all intrusion attempts.
As many of you already know, I rely on the JAWS screen reader to access my computers. I am virtually totally blind and do not live with a sighted person who can get me out of any jams that might be caused by buggy, inaccessible software. WSC Guard is a solid, totally accessible solution that provides the highest possible level of wireless network security at the lowest possible cost.
WSC Guard is available as a 30 day free trial. After that, it costs only $4.95 per month or $49.95 per year for each user of the wireless network. Please feel free to visit the Wireless Security Corporation web site to learn more about WSC Guard, sign up for the free trial, download and install the software. You may also e-mail me directly with any questions and I’ll certainly do my best to answer them for you.