New in Technology for November 2005
Something in the
Air - Beware Wi-Fi Security Risks
a time when all PC users are aware of Internet security issues,
a surprising number of business executives let their guard down
when using Wi-Fi networks on the road. Perhaps they would be a bit
more careful if they realized that a large number of Wi-Fi networks
are almost completely open to all comers. And, if they knew that
many Wi-Fi users have sinister motives and malicious purposes in
"War-driving" (also known as "LAN-jacking") is when hackers use
a laptop's wireless network interface card (NIC) to pick up unsecured
wireless local area network (LAN) signals to gain access to anonymous
and free high-speed internet access. The hackers cruise around various
neighborhoods with their laptop, armed with antennas, on the lookout
for vulnerable wireless networks. This practice is well known, and
many who do it are merely trying to get Internet access for free.
However, some "war-drivers" have malicious intentions and are looking
for ways to gain entry into other PCs using wireless networks. Given
the proliferation of Wi-Fi networks and the fact that "war-driving"
requires no sophisticated software or hardware, this form of network
invasion is a serious problem that continues to grow. Using a global
positioning satellite (GPS) with wireless NICs, hackers can map
out major metro areas to build a directory of wireless networks
- secured and unsecured networks. Using readily available programs
to break into your WLAN, most hackers only require patience to successfully
break your Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption. If you don't
understand how Wi-Fi operates and fail to take some proactive steps
to protect your laptop, you are setting yourself and your business
up for some serious security problems.
Wi-Fi Security Efforts
Internet security experts suggest you pay attention to the basics,
and stay informed about new developments and new solutions:
wireless security threats into your technology security efforts.
Get expert advice if necessary and update your Internet security
policies and procedures to reflect the risks wireless devices
pose to your business network.
Wi-Fi's basic WEP encryption alone is inadequate to protect
data from determined sophisticated hackers, it will deter casual
"war-drivers". And, it is important to make sure it is set up
properly on the wireless access point on every PC to help cut
your security risks. If you change your key frequently - once
a week is recommended for small businesses - you will help shore
up the WEP protection.
Windows XP supports a Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) standard
that is an improvement over the WEP. Keep apprised of new developments
and enhancements to the WPA standard.
everyone in your company about the need for Wi-Fi security vigilance.
Don't just give them copies of new policies or procedures. Take
the time to explain why compliance is so important.
the wireless access point to a security gateway rather than
directly to your network. Purchase software and/or security
services to help protect individual PCs.
Computing mobility is a fact of business life. Keep your Internet
security regularly updated and don't leave your network vulnerable
to attacks from wireless hackers.
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for the tax and accounting needs of small businesses and individuals.
The information contained in this Website is intended to provide
general information on matters of interest in the areas of tax
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