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Beginners Guides: Securing A Wireless Network

Beginners Guides: Securing A Wireless Network - PCSTATS
Abstract: Modern wireless networking products are inexpensive, simple to set up and very convenient. They are also full of holes... security holes, that is.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jul 30 2007   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

More Steps to Securing a WLAN

MAC address filtering needs to be enabled only on your wireless router, and the setup will depend on your hardware, so consult the documentation for a how-to. Some devices will allow you to set a couple of different 'permissions' for MAC address filtering, permission to 'associate' with the network and permission to 'connect.'

Association allows a wireless device to communicate only with other wireless clients based on the router, and does not allow access to the Internet or to computers that may be connected with conventional network cable to the same router. Connecting allows a wireless client full communication with other wired and wireless clients on the router, and access to the Internet through the device.

4. Disabling SSID broadcasts

The SSID, or Service Set IDentifier, functions as a sort of navigation beacon for wireless networks. In order to communicate, the wireless router and all clients must use the same SSID value.

A wireless router or access point will broadcast this value, along with other connection information, several times a second. Any wireless client in range will receive these broadcasts, including the SSID, and will thus be able to configure themselves in order to communicate on that network.

The SSID also serves to reveal the location of your network to anyone with a wireless network adaptor, which can lead to security concerns. Several manufacturers allow the disabling of SSID broadcasts on their wireless routers and actions points. This increases the security of your network by making it less visible to casual eavesdroppers and users or wireless network location software.

Doing so also requires that wireless clients must be manually configured with the correct SSID for your network in order to connect. This can be changed through the software that came with the card, or through the wireless network properties in Windows XP.

Note that there are a few limitations and problems with this method. First of all, not all devices support disabling the SSID broadcasts, so you may be out of luck. Secondly, if you are in a business environment and use more than one wireless router or access point and they do not all have the SSID broadcasts disabled, you will have problems.

This is because Windows XP wireless clients will not connect to an access point that has SSID broadcasts disabled if there is another access point in range that is broadcasting. Bah!

Lastly, just like WEP and MAC address filtering, this is by no means a foolproof method of hiding your network. Even if your router has SSID broadcasts disabled, it will still transmit the SSID information if it receives certain requests from a wireless client... any wireless client. Certain network location software can exploit this.

5. Disabling DHCP

DHCP, or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, is the method your router uses to distribute IP addresses and other information to its clients. Any network adaptor that is set to receive an IP address automatically (the default setting for network adaptors in Windows) will periodically send out a broadcast looking for a DHCP server.

If one exists, it will give that client an IP address from a pool of addresses the DHCP server has set aside to distribute. It will also configure other settings on the client, such as the location of the default gateway which indicates to what address the client should send data if it wishes to communicate with a computer outside its current network. In the case of a home network using a wireless router, the default gateway will be the IP address of the router itself, since it functions as the gateway between your network and the Internet.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Securing A Wireless Network
 Pg 2.  Network Security vs. Wireless Security
 Pg 3.  Finding Intruders on a Network
 Pg 4.  Checking Ports and Workgroups
 Pg 5.  Checking Router Logs
 Pg 6.  Managing Network Shares
 Pg 7.  Personal Firewalls
 Pg 8.  Using Zonealarm
 Pg 9.  Securing a Router and Wireless Connection
 Pg 10.  — More Steps to Securing a WLAN
 Pg 11.  Disabling DHCP on a WAP
 Pg 12.  Wireless Protected Access: WEP Improved

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