How Do I Secure My Wireless Network?
As the connectivity needs of many modern homes and offices grow beyond one PC or computer, homeowners and business executives will, in time, be faced with choosing a network type that will effectively connect all PCs in that environment. Some people prefer a wired network because it is fast and cheaper to install; however, wired networks are not flexible, as all devices must be physically plugged in to be connected. With wireless networks, users experience greater convenience as they can move their devices within the network area and maintain their connection. Sharing files and other information becomes more manageable, too, in the process. Despite its vast advantages, many users often worry about the security of wireless networks.
What is a Wireless Network?
Unlike its counterpart, which requires ethernet cables to be physically plugged into a PC port, wireless networks operate through a specific radio frequency (RF) connection. The signals of these frequencies are transmitted between nodes in the network. Although many assume that wireless networks require no cables, this is not always the case. Setting up wireless networks still requires a fair bit of cabling and wall jack installation. However, far fewer wires are used, and individual computers do not need to be physically connected before they can communicate with each other. Ultimately, the amount of cable used and the installation cost will depend on the size of the area and the amount of Wireless Access Points (WAPs) required. Other hardware, like routers, also add to the cost of installation. The advantage is that, with wireless networks, expanding or upgrading the network is far easier and less disruptive than with wired networks.
Pros and Cons of Wireless Networks
When deciding on a network type, you should make an objective choice . Wireless networks have advantages as well as disadvantages. Here are a few of them:
Pros of Wireless Networks
Some advantages of wireless networks over a wired network include the following:
The cost of wireless networks is subjective as it depends on your unique business type and the space you wish to connect. However, since wireless require less cable dropping and hardware, they tend to be expensive to set up.
Wireless networks will give their users way more mobility than a wired network. The user is not tied to a computer tethered by a cable; instead, he can move about with his device and still access the network quickly.
Wireless networks can cost less, depending on the space you are setting up. However, any massive cost you incur in setting them up will likely be a one-time thing, as subsequent expansions and upgrades are cheaper and more accessible than those of wireless networks.
Cons of Wireless Networks
Wireless networks have some disadvantages, too; here are some of them:
Wireless networks are fast, and technology improvements keep making them faster, but wired networks are generally quicker than wireless networks. Most businesses often use a hybrid, that is, a wired network paired with a wireless one.
Another crucial problem with wireless networks is their stability. Wireless networks use radio frequency, and signals are thus prone to interference, reducing the network’s quality. Wireless-enabled devices, other networks, and even objects such as walls can mess up a wireless signal.
Security is an important topic for businesses and organizations, especially when it comes to wireless networks as they are more prone to attacks and interceptions than wired networks. However, with improved security measures, it has become safer to use wireless networks.
Are Wireless Networks More Secure than Wired Networks?
Wireless networks are usually less secure than wired networks for various reasons. To intercept a wired network, the intruder has to access the office space physically. Wireless networks require no physical presence; they can pick up signals easily from outside the office area. In addition, wireless networks often transmit radio waves to remote locations, making it far easier to intercept; as most of these signals are unencrypted, this could be a risk. Despite this, many businesses are changing their wired networks to wireless ones. A reason for this is the increased demand for remote work, which only wireless networks make possible. Advancements in network security technology, including encryption of signals, have also made wireless networks safer to work with.
Common Security Threats in Wireless Networks
To better secure your wireless network, you must become familiar with some of the risks attached. Here are a few of the common security threats to networks you should be aware of:
Piggybacking is when an intruder uses a wireless-enabled device to latch onto an unsecured wireless network within range. As most phones and laptops are now wireless-enabled, this is far easier to happen. Businesses and homes in closely settled areas are at higher risk of this attack. Piggybacking reduces the speed of connectivity for its users. Even scarier, intruders can use your network to commit cybercrimes, monitor your web traffic, and even steal personal data about your home or business.
Denial of Service Attack
In this case, the intruder gains access to your network, floods it with numerous messages, messes up the signal, and affects the availability of the network to the original users. This activity can have a devastating effect on business as it leads to a loss of productivity.
Evil Twin Attack
This sort of attack is usually done when a malicious intruder gathers enough information about an unsecured network and uses that information to impersonate the original. The purpose of impersonation is to steal sensitive information. Because attackers often use a more robust and highly identical signal, unsuspecting users usually connect to the false network and could reveal passwords and credit card information, amongst other personal data.
Wireless Sniffers use powerful sniffing tools to intercept data transferred over unsecured networks. Since most messages we send over wireless networks are unencrypted, the sniffer has easy access to sensitive data such as data and credit card information.
How Do I Add Security to my Wireless Network?
Although wireless networks are prone to security threats, you can still make attacks impossible by beefing up your network security. Some ways to make your network more secure include:
- Encryption: helps protect the privacy of any data you transmit over the network. Wireless networks can support WiFi Protected Access (WPA) and Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP).
- Remote Management: An excellent remote management plan will monitor networks and alert when devices are added or modified. These alerts make it difficult for an intruder to penetrate the network.
- Firewalls are tools that filter and monitor all incoming and outgoing network traffic based on established security protocols. They actively cut down incidents of infiltration.
- Antivirus: to prevent, detect, and remove malicious software on the users’ computers or devices.
- Web Filtering: this tool prevents users from accessing possible malicious sites that contain malware, spyware, or even phishing and adware.
When to Hire a Wireless Network Security Company
You should hire a wireless security company if your network is at high risk of being breached. Businesses or homes in areas where buildings are close together have a higher risk of interception as their network signals can be seen in other buildings. Also, sudden file chances, locked-out users, slow network or device performance, and unusual account behavior could be signs of a network breach. Once you observe this, you should get a good security company to fortify your network against cyberattacks.
Wireless networks are beneficial because they can be cheap to install and upgrade and allow users some flexibility in how they use the connectivity. But they also come with issues such as slow network speed and a greater propensity for cyberattacks. Fortunately, advances in technology and cybersecurity have made it possible to use wireless networks safely and efficiently. Knowing some threats and taking active security measures will help you get the best out of your wireless network. Computronix is ready to Secure your business network!