The comfort of connecting to the Internet in a cafe in a car or home in the backyard, with no hot spots where wireless Internet is available has led the popularity of wireless networks significantly in the last year. But few people realize the tremendous security risks with wireless access. We close our businesses and homes, keep our money in locked safes in banks and so on, but we shut our wireless access points on our PCs. Many studies on business and residential wireless access points have shown that they are not blocked or not locked properly.
All you need is a wireless router connected to the Internet and network adapters for each machine. Even of long cables, radio signals are used to connect computers, allowing them to share the single broadband connection. Wireless networks are easy to implement and relatively inexpensive. But comfort is a compromise safety. Wireless networks, sometimes called Wi-Fi or 802.11 networks, uses a radio link even of cables to connect computers. As a result, anyone within radio range can theoretically listen or transmit data over the network.
One study showed that 90 percent of 1,500 corporation surveyed reported using wireless security products, a large majority depended on security systems that have left their networks. The data they transmitted were exposed to attacks from hackers (survey conducted by the Diffusion Group, August 16, 2006). Other studies show that corporation using the wireless call dated, old technology to lock their wireless access points.
It's scary because hackers can penetrate a network via Wi-Fi and once, they can obtain social security numbers, driver's license, credit card numbers and other personal and financial information. Add to the mix they can take over your computer, and the dangers grow. Intruders do not need physical access to your equipment, they may be sitting in your car or in the apartment complex in the street. Freely available tools allow intruders to sniff out unsecured networks. With a program like this, a hacker can access a wireless access point, run the program, and within minutes get every word someone uses your password.
Technology and computers are in constant evolution and development. At the same time, white collar bandits, like pirates, are continually adapting and finding new ways to succeed. Updates for viruses, spyware and operating systems out almost every day. The first security mechanism built in Wi-Fi was Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which permits the encryption of wireless traffic. However, the encryption is disabled by default in wireless devices and software, and in many cases, it is never on. But even if WEP is used, it is not very secure.
Last year, Ian Goldberg, a cryptographer at security and privacy software developer Zero-Knowledge Systems Inc. in Montreal, in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has WEP. Researchers at Rice University in Houston and AT & T Labs in Florham Park, NJ, later found an even easier to break WEP.
Going wireless Internet connection is broadcast outside of your home or business. Without security, anyone with a wireless notebook or PDA can use your network. They can get free Internet access, steal information stored in your computer, or use your system to attack something else. This could include downloading child porn, sharing copyrighted content, or perform a denial of service attack and could be linked to you.
This vulnerability has led to wardriving, which involves driving around a wireless device and find wireless networks. There are those who consider it a hobby, they do out of curiosity and to draw attention to the magnitude of the problem of security. Then there are those who use wardriving criminal intent. Identify networks is not illegal, but access is.
In February 2006, a man in Rockford, Illinois, was arrested for accessing wireless Internet through a nonprofit agency. He was fined $ 250 and sentenced to one year supervision order. Are we still afraid? We should be. Last year, even after numerous technical articles, ranting and raving about the risks of wireless security, nothing has changed. The solutions are available. Part of the solution is to enable the security features of your access point. It's that simple. Businesses also have to encrypt the traffic and segment the wireless network using virtual LANs (VLANs). Technology Professionals Information recommends that corporation have an assessment conducted by a wireless company other than that created it. This will determine if your wireless router is locked. If not, it can and should be done as quickly as possible. Both business and IT Elite (www.eliteitpc.com) can serve these solutions to both business and residential customers.