Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, July 28, 2008

WiFi Security Presentation

Next month, I’m speaking at a conference of trainers for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. One of my sessions will be about WiFi wireless security geared towards protecting someone’s privacy from potential abusers. I’ve included an outline below which I hope will educational to all but I’m also open to comments about what else I could include.

Frequently a Wireless(WiFi) Router comes as part of the package from Comcast, Time Warner or Verizon FIOS even If you don’t specifically request it. The Wireless router is your connection to the internet and needs to be secure.

· Default Password
The default password for your router is publically available and should be changed to something only you know. This year we’re discovering more malware trying to gain control of your router by trying default passwords. How to access the wireless router control panel should be in your documentation. Typically, it will be as easy as typing in an address like

· WEP/WP2 Encryption
The data that goes over the air from your laptop to the router is accessible to anyone else with a software. This data can be jumbled up with encryption so it’s not easy to understand. Typically, this encryption will be called WEP or WP2 and is standard on most wireless routers and the card in your laptop. Your Wireless control panel will allow you to create a simple key that is required by any laptop using your wireless network.

· Extended Range of Wireless devices
Simple WiFi network typically has a range around 100 feet so you might think someone needs to be close to your computer to access your wireless data. New high powered antenna’s and even home grown hacks can be used to extend the range of a wifi network.

· Beware of Free WiFi Networks
It’s often tempting to use what looks like a free WiFi network. You might be in the airport, Starbucks or local book store which has free networking. Make sure you know the name of the network you’re connecting to. Someone with another laptop could configure their machine to appear as if it’s a free network when instead you’d be communicating through their computer while they capture your name and passwords.

I’m sure there’s more I can say so feel free to comment. I’ll also be speaking about Bluetooth security so I’ll be looking for tips on Bluetooth security as well.

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