Cover by Gary A. Donahue

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Security

Security has always been a big concern with wireless. Even today, with wireless a mature technology, I can walk around any apartment complex with a laptop and probably get onto someone’s insecure wireless network. I know people who haven’t paid for Internet access in years because their neighbors don’t secure their wireless, allowing anyone to steal their bandwidth. While theft of Internet bandwidth is a moral and security concern, the bigger worry should be that unfettered wireless access allows strangers into an insecure network. It’s one thing to be able to surf the Net for free. It’s something else entirely to have access to all the computers on someone else’s network.

Note

Even wireless security isn’t enough. I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in hotels. As soon as I authenticate and gain access to the wireless in the hotel, I see scores of computers advertising themselves and their file shares. People have provided easy access to personal photographs, medical and financial records, and even sensitive password lists. Do yourself a favor and turn off the file shares on your laptop when you travel. Rumor has it there are plenty of bored nerds out there with nothing better to do than see what you’ve got to share.

There are a few methods for securing a wireless network, which generally fall into two categories: authentication and encryption. Some of these methods include:

MAC ID filtering

MAC ID filtering is a valid authentication method for small networks or where someone ...

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