Aug 17, 2011

Wireless Technology Security Issues


Wireless technology is in phones, computers and many other pieces of technology. Wireless connections make it more convenient to use many products, but there are a number of security issues surrounding wireless technology. One of the main areas that security specialists focus on is wireless networks, since there are many different types of security risks inherent in a home or business wireless network.
  1. Wireless Technology

    • Wireless technology transmits data through various radio frequencies. Many computers have built in wireless networking, whether it's through a network card or on the motherboard itself. Wireless technology cuts down on wiring costs. Certain device functions, such as garage door openers, would be impossible or impractical without wireless technology.

    Securing Networks

    • Software and hardware firewalls are a common method of securing wireless networks. A hardware firewall is contained on wireless routers and stand-alone devices. The modem connects to the router and monitors network traffic. The firewall blocks hackers and unauthorized access by dropping data packets from unauthorized users and accounts. Software firewalls are installed directly on a computer or server. The software firewall restricts file sharing, programs accessing the network and other user-defined variables. Wireless networks can be secured by setting a network key, or password, in order to gain access to the network.

    Encryption

    • Wireless signals have several encryption types. Encryption makes it difficult for a hacker to intercept and interpret data packets. Wired Equivalent Protection, or WEP, was the first type of wireless encryption. It is 64-bit and 128-bit, and Microsoft reports that it is now outdated because of how easy it is to hack.
      Wi-Fi Protected Access, or WPA, is an encryption method using 128-bit and 256-bit encryption. There are a few different types of WPA, the most common of which are WPA-AES, WPA-TKIP, WPA2 and WPA-PSK. Certain devices are restricted to specific types of encryption, such as video game consoles. Other devices such as wireless routers allow you to switch between different methods of encryption.

    Risks

    • Wireless security issues bring a number of risks to wireless networks. Hackers can break into entire networks using unsecured wireless devices or access points. Unauthorized users can piggyback onto unsecured networks to use bandwidth, perform illegal activity and steal sensitive data. Hackers can flood the wireless network with data to make it unusable. This practice is called a denial of service attack.

    Prevention

    • Wireless security issues are greatly reduced simply by using strong wireless encryption, firewalls and network keys. Businesses have a number of additional prevention methods. Each wireless device has a specific MAC address, and network administrators restrict network access to specific devices using these addresses. Static IPs are used in a similar fashion.
      Another hardware security method uses USB flash drives or SD cards to gain access to a network. A user puts in his drive and enters in a password. If the user doesn't have the hardware, the login is rejected.
      Some companies go as far as using RF shielding on their buildings. RF shielding uses paint or window treatments to stop wireless signals from traveling outside of the building.

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