WiFi Security with NetSpot

Wireless network security is a top priority for anyone building or restructuring such network. NetSpot provides you with all necessary tools to decrease WiFi security risks to the lowest possible minimum.

How to secure your Wi-Fi network

With traditional networks the issue is that others can connect to Internet using your broadband connection even though they are not authorized to. Rogue APs, stations associating with the wrong AP and wardriving… Currently serious security breaches, sensitive data theft and forgeries are not that uncommon.

The general security issues for wireless networks

The possible problems are:

1. Confidentiality: the data you send through the network should be encrypted really well in order not to be intercepted and read by an unintended person. The proper way to decrypt the data is a key and a proper authentication process.

2. Integrity: Wireless networks are more exposed to attacks aiming at data integrity.

3. Availability: Radio jamming can easily restrict the availability of a network. Another type of attack, called battery exhaustion attack, is where unauthorized parties continuously send messages or some data to connected devices to exhaust their batteries.

4. Eavesdropping and Authentication: As wireless networks are broadcast, there are a lot of access points that are prone to be used for accessing the network. Prevention of eavesdropping is important.

5. Bluesnarfing or bluejacking: These attacks are performed through Bluetooth in order to steal or tamper the data.

6. Wardrivers: They perform security attacks with wireless devices like laptops by trying to connect to an unprotected network with the intention of recording private data of other users on this network.

However it is not as difficult as it may sound to make your wireless network secure. Securing your network will prevent others from stealing your bandwidth and will stop hackers from taking control over your machines via your own WiFi network.

Wireless Security: what to start with

Firstly conduct a site survey with NetSpot WiFi Site Survey tool. It will immediately help you detect and eliminate rogue APs — the ones that were deployed without permission.

Site survey also helps expose unauthorized workstations. Organize an inventory of laptops and PDAs with wireless adapters, with user, MAC address and operating system information. This data is used for WLAN access controls. In case WLAN adapters are misplaced or stolen an up-to-date list is crucial.

You may discover close-by APs and stations not belonging to your network. A good thing to do is survey public areas neighboring with your facility, including all levels. The MAC addresses should be recorded, along with network name (SSID) and channel. Use this data to avoid the cross-interference and scratch the possibility of false-positive intrusion alerts.

It is recommended to get APs with high-grade antennas with strong yet tight signal. Their narrow focus will provide better security for the signal and less leaking outside where a wardriver can intercept it.

Steps to secure your wireless network

A few simple steps have to be taken to secure your WiFi network:

Step 1 Unique passwords

Create unique WiFi passwords for your routers. Creating unordinary passwords will prevent unauthorized users from getting access to a router and help keep the WiFi security settings that you set up.

Step 2 Assets to protect

In order to secure your WiFi network at home, every piece of your data has to be protected. And as for business network, it is important to decide which assets need protection and what will be the impact of theft, damage or loss of data. Upon deciding on the assets, enumerate threats and risks. After this basic work has been done, begin considering WLAN building alternatives.

Step 3 Network Topology

Think through how new WLAN segments are going to be integrated and how you will use the already existing components of your wired network. The topology, placement of devices and the security measures you take have the direct impact on wireless LAN security.

Apply restrictions to the AP placement in your network. All wireless APs should be untrusted and always placed outside the firewall or within a DMZ.

Integrate WiFi networks and wireless devices with already existing management structure. Decide whether APs, stations and WLAN programs need an inventory, additional configuration and monitoring.

Step 4 Network Encryption

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a security protocol that addresses weaknesses found in the preceding system WEP with both types of products being able to interoperate. This protocol incorporates the stable parts of the 802.11i security standard that is a work in progress.

WPA defines TKIP stopgap protocol that mixes a base key with transmitter's MAC address to create a new key. Then an initialization vector is mixed with the derived key to generate per-packet keys. This enhances security from what WEP had to offer. Additionally WPA does a Message Integrity Check (MIC) to prevent data forgery.

WPA with 802.1X has to be used by enterprises for key delivery and refresh. Those that use WEP should upgrade to WPA as soon as it is available for the firmware. The final 802.11i standard will add AES for more robust security but that is rather a forklift than a firmware upgrade.

Step 5 VPN

If your business is already using a VPN access, think of using it for WLAN security. It makes the most sense when WAN and LAN security policies are consistent with the same encryption algorithms and credentials.

Wireless LANs however have their own set of VPN issues:

  • With a high-speed wireless LAN there is more data to encrypt. In order to provide support for wireless encryption one may need additional gateways, specifically when using 802.11a/g at link speeds up to 54 Mbps.
  • Tunnels are tied to IP addresses. With APs changing IP addresses broken tunnels are reestablished but the disruption is often noticeable. In smaller wireless networks several access points may be sharing the same DHCP scope, while in larger wireless networks when stations roam the tunnel persistence can be provided by wireless gateways.
  • Deploying a client can be expensive and difficult to implement. Reusing already deployed clients is different from adding new ones with new policies.

Step 6 Control the Wireless Signal Range

When working in a smaller office you don't need a high range of your router to be active. You can either change the mode for your router to 802.11g (instead of 802.11n or 802.11b) or start using a different Wi-Fi channel.

Keeping Your Wireless Network Safe

In order to keep your Wireless LAN safe and secure you'll need to define and apply the right security measures to protect the access points from wardrivers. There are high-quality network security tools available that can discover WLAN, test the penetration and assess vulnerability. You can use NetSpot for site survey and then periodically run it to ensure there are no rogue APs and unauthorized connections in your network.

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