The use of the wireless devices goes on to increase as they turn out to be cheaper and more affordable to the users (“Using wireless technology securely” 1). The increased use of the wireless technologies among the business as well as personal systems has led to better accessibility and interoperability.
But, on the other hand, this same ubiquity has as well contributed to a rise in the level of risks to the computer networks. The attackers have been offered fresh ways to engage in the stealing of very sensitive information, messing about with the business processes, and sabotaging “network security enforcement systems” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
While new threats as well as attacks “are found against wireless networks, they are addressed with changes and additions to the protocols and standards” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1). In this paper, the wireless technology is going to be discussed, including its benefits and security threats and later, focus will be on how to “password protect” the wireless technology.
Benefits of Wireless Technologies
It is pointed out that, in the current day, more than 165 million mobile experts as well as organizations make use of the wireless technologies in solving business problems and gaining competitive advantages (“Wireless technology 2).
The increased reliance on networking in the business world and the internet growth as well as online services strongly indicates the “benefits of shared data and resources” (“Wireless technology” 2).
The wireless solutions bring these benefits to a high level by giving room for users to have access to the shared information and applications, and eliminating the constraints that are associated with the wired connections. In addition, the wireless technology makes it possible for the managers of the networks to develop or expand networks without necessarily having to move or install wires.
It is pointed out that nearly all the computing devices which include “monitors, desktops, tablets, workstations, printers and handhelds can be equipped to communicate wirelessly” (“Wireless technology” 2). The wireless solutions give out more convenience, productivity and more cost advantages as compared to the wired networks (“Wireless technology” 2).
Wireless technology allows a large number of benefits and this includes allowing business organizations to derive benefits “from the value of their information” (“Wireless technology” 2). The wireless solutions are capable of offering users, “access to real-time information from more places in their organization” (“Wireless technology” 2).
Such mobility offer support to productivity and also offer service opportunities which can not otherwise be achieved by using the wired networks. Companies are currently implementing wireless solutions with an intention of improving their competitiveness in the market. Having wireless solutions that are easy-to-use and more secure has brought about the opportunity to bring down the level of costs and has also led to improvement in performance.
It is also pointed out that “wireless networks extend core networks, provides greater utilization of existing networks” (“Wireless technology” 2). There can be configuration of wireless systems in various topologies in order to ensure meeting of some specific installations as well as applications.
There can be easy changing of configurations and “range from peer-to-peer networks appropriate for few users to full infrastructure networks of thousands of users that enable roaming over a broad area” (“Wireless technology” 3). However, these benefits that come with the wireless technology can not be enjoyed where appropriate measures are not taken in order to deal with the security threats that are associated to the wireless technologies.
Password protecting wireless technology
Following the security threats that face the wireless networks, there is a need to protect these networks. The “wireless router or access point in a network is essentially a radio transmitter’ (Rodriguez 1).
Similar to the case if a radio transmitter, any person that has the right tools can be able to pick up the signal in case he/she is within the range. Since radio transmissions “are broadcast through the air to target devices, any system properly configured within the radio broadcast range can also receive the wireless messages” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
This implies that devices which are not supposed to be on the wireless network can get transmissions. It is observed that “the extension of the network wireless technologies has well increased the attack surface available to malicious users; an adversary can become part of a network and interact with systems that were not designed to operate in a hostile environment” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
The most common activity that is employed in the attack of the wireless technology is “war driving” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1). A person with ill intentions can engage in moving around with a laptop having a wireless receiver while listening to the “radio traffic that is being broadcast” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
There can be setting of the programs that are run on the laptop in order to automatically carry out the analysis of the data and make an effort to “break in to the networks as they are found” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
Moreover, a large number of attackers can as well engage in correlating data with GPS information to come up with a “wireless access points” map (“The risks of wireless technology” 1). Basing on where they are located, the attackers, at a later time, can engage in revisiting these access points in order to carry out more attacks.
It is pointed out that “password protection can keep intruders out of your network, maintaining the privacy of your personal information” (Rodriguez 1). In order to “password protect” the wireless network, this may involve use of encryption. It is pointed out that “data encryption is used to ‘scramble’ the signals the wireless network uses to send information back and forth between computers” (Rodriguez 1).
It is only those users who know the password can be in a position to engage in the unscrambling of the signals “into useable data” (Rodriguez 1). In the present day wireless technology, there exist two encryption forms and these are “Wired Equivalency Privacy – WEP, and Wi-Fi Protected Access – WPA” (Rodriguez 1).
WEP was the initial encryption form that was utilized in the wireless networks. This form of encryption is prevalent “in first generation network equipment and no-PC devices like PDAs, game consoles and media players” (Rodriguez 1). However, WEP do have a grave design weakness that enables the hostile entities to obtain the encryption key and be in a position “to see all traffic with relative ease” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
It is also pointed out that the “access control mechanisms that used the Media Access Control (MAC) address of networked devices no longer give IT professionals any guarantee a rogue device is within an easily identified physical area” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
The synchronization capacities of the ‘address book’ found in the cellular phones among other portable devices facilitates stealing of the ‘address book’ in case it is not implemented in the right way, such as the “Bluesnarfing for Bluetooth-enabled devices” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1).
It is pointed out that having advancements in cryptanalysis, the software that is used in the analysis of “wireless network traffic and deriving encryption keys and passwords has become commonplace” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1). Allocating encryption key that is much more complex for WEP remains to enable an attacker to identify what the key is in a very short period of time by making use of such software as WepLab and Aircrack.
Making use of encryption algorithms that are stronger but which have keys that are weak still leaves the networks prone to the dictionary attacks that utilizes “list of words and permutations to try and guess encryption keys” (“The risks of wireless technology” 1) The WepLab as well as Aircrack support this operation method also.
However, it is noted that even if WEP is not strong enough as compared to other encryption techniques, it offers a fundamental protection level which is better than not having one (Rodriguez 1). If a person is making use of WEP, he/she can make it be more effective by engaging in changing of the password on a more frequent basis (Rodriguez 1).
In the current days, people prefer to use WPA as a “wireless network encryption” method (Rodriguez 1). This method gives room for passwords which utilize characters in addition to numbers and letters and this makes it possible to have passwords that are more secure to use.
The method as well offers stronger encryption which is regarded as being harder to ‘conquer’ by the intruders. The WPA method “may not be supported by all hardware, but is designed to drop back to WEP in situations where hardware is not compatible” (Rodriguez 1).
It is also suggested that, as an additional layer to the safeguarding of the passwords, one is supposed to consider enabling “MAC filtering” (Rodriguez 1). Every individual computer is assigned a “12-character identifier”, which is only one of its kind, referred to as MAC ID. MAC filtering enables creation of the MAC addresses which are permitted to access the network. The MAC ID serves as a second password and it enables “only a select number of computers in to the network” (Rodriguez 1)
In the current days, a large number of people and organizations are using the wireless technology on an increasing level because it has become more affordable and convenient to use. There are many benefits that are brought in by using the wireless technology. People and organizations can now access important information that can enable them to carry out their activities more comfortably and conveniently.
The companies are becoming more competitive in the market as a result of using this technology. However, there has also been an increase in the level of risks to the computer networks. Attackers have tried to have access to information on the unprotected wireless networks.
There is a need to protect one’s information since it can be wrongly used by another person. To achieve this protection, there is a need for password protecting the wireless technology. This can effectively be done by using such methods as WEP and the more advanced method, WPA.
Rodriguez, Gene. Password protect a wireless network. Life123, 2012. Web. 25 January 2012. < http://www.life123.com/technology/computer-networking/password-protect/password-protect-wireless-network.shtml>.
“The risks of wireless technology.” Security4wireless.com. Security4wireless, 2010. Web. 25 January 2012.
“Using wireless technology securely.” U.s-cert.gov. US-CERT, 2006. Web. 25 January 2012. < http://www.us-cert.gov/reading_room/Wireless-Security.pdf>.
“Wireless technology.” www2.hp.com. www2.hp, n.d. Web. 25 January 2012.