A wireless network offers a myriad of benefits to small businesses that are not only limited to reducing costs. From facilitating connections to both wired and wireless devices to instant access to the Internet from anywhere in the office, the perks of utilizing WLAN are plenty. Setting up a wireless LAN is also easier and less expensive than a wired connection, which explains why so many businesses are fans of this technology.
Despite the advantages, the security of a wireless network is something to take seriously. Because of all the network equipment including Wireless Routers and access points along with dozens of relevant configurations, even a slight slip up of a configuration may lead to a massive breach of security.
Five tips for programming a WLAN security setting
To ensure complete safety of the wireless network, one can make certain changes to their WLAN configuration. By following these simple yet overlooked steps, any business can improve the level of security of their network:
1. Change all Usernames and Passwords
Believe it or not, one of the most common reasons of network security breach happens due to people forgetting to modify the default username and password. The SSID (Service Set Identifier) by default often happens to be the name of the service provider and a preset password which is “password”. Hackers are aware that users often forget to change the SSID setting from default, and so get easy access to the network configuration. It’s important that the system administrator changes the SSID, account names, and passwords to something that consists of random combinations of more than 10 letters and numbers that are completely obscure.
2. Enable User Authentication
This simple tweak to the WLAN configuration can greatly boost a network security setting. Enabling this setting will allow only approved users to connect to the network and block others trying to get unauthorized access. There are two ways in which one can enable user authentication: through 802.1.1X/EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) and via MAC (Media Access Control) address filtering. One may also want to consider turning off DHCP on the router points and switch to fixed IP from dynamic IP addresses.
3. Turning Data Encryption ON
All WLAN equipment comes with some form of encryption in the form of WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security protocols. The reason one should prefer WPA (Wi-Fi protected access) and WPA2 over WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is that the former uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), which can provide better encryption. It’s important to set every WLAN device to the same encryption protocol and ensure even older WPA or WPA2 incompatible devices are upgraded to support the advanced protocols.
4. Switching on Built-in Firewalls
Wireless routers and wireless access points manufactured by many companies come with built-in firewalls to provide an added layer of security. A network administrator should always keep this setting enabled to provide another barrier to stop malicious traffic from infiltrating the network. People tend to ignore this setting thinking it’s unimportant, but the facts speak otherwise.
5. Hide WiFi broadcast
By turning off the broadcast function of a router’s SSID setting and access points, businesses can make their WLAN difficult to trace by hackers. As it so happens, networking gear regularly broadcasts SSID of a wireless network, which may help users to find a free public hotspot but is completely unnecessary in the case of a private company. By following these simple steps, one can significantly enhance their network security and stay safe from breaches.