Many homes and businesses now use Wireless technology to connect their portable computers and devices to their network and to provide a network infrastructure without the need to hardwire to each device location.
The ability to quickly add devices or allow an interface to your network is important but if security is not properly implemented you may find that others have quick and easy access to your network too.
At home we store just as much important information on our networked computers as we do at work. Although corporate espionage may not follow you home from work employers should also be aware that when a company laptop is brought home to a network that is not secure it can also mean the release of confidential and customer data so proper training should be provided.
Home users even if you are not worried about people getting at your data simply opening your network could put you in hot water with your internet provider.
Most ISPs now monitor P2P network file sharing and will close your account if they find abuse but they can monitor any portion of your network use including data transfer. If you have an open network and people in your apartment complex access the internet through it then you can easily be over your limits. Usually you will findout if your ISP warns you of over use and get a second chance but this is not to say they can’t cut you off the first time.
Securing Your Network
Every device on your network must be secured. This means you should make use of both encryption which will keep your data private but you should also restrict access to your network by MAC addresses.
If you have an extremely old device you may find that your encryption methods are out dated. WEP was one of the first encryption protocols and provides basic security that has now been found to be easily hacked.
WPA security protocol and WPA2 are better solutions for security but they can still be hacked by someone who uses a sniffer (listening device) and a brute force dictionary attack. However WPA is now a standard that most device manufacturers use to protect their networks.
If you can patch your device you should upgrade to a newer firmware version if you can not upgrade through firmware then you should upgrade the device. Most devices made before 2003 can not be upgraded through firmware / software upgrades. Check your manufacturer for more information.
If you share data on a backup storage device or print to a print server that is not secure you may be opening your network to improper use.
Highly Secured Networks
When you truly value your data you should never use Wireless Technology for network data transfer. This is important whether you are at home or the office.
Wiring your home for network connectivity is not the hardest thing for a home owner to accomplish. Simple tools such as an electric hand drill and a screwdriver and drywall saw can have your network installed in under a day.
Wired networks are not only more secure they are also faster and more reliable.
Unfortunately not everyone can make use of wired technology especially if you are renting.
Monitoring Your Network
If you are using wireless technology there are methods for monitoring traffic and connections that you should not only implement but also watch regularly.
Most wireless routers will not have a way to alert you immediately if an intruder has connected but once they do make a connection they are more likely to return.
In addition you may want to push all of your network traffic through a proxy that can log connections. This may help you track who is using your network. To do so you will need to connect your wireless router to a server which is then connected to your cable modem by a network cable.
There are many solutions for achieving this and free products are available for the Linux or FreeBSD operating system that can provide you with full access to not only an intruders use of your network but all the data that they push through it.
So remember to read the directions of any device that you connect to your network and configure them as directed. If you are in need of specific help contact your manufacturer.
Also keep up to date with Firmware Upgrades which will improve performance and security.