You bought your wireless router and now you want to make sure you lock down wireless network security – no problem, let me show you how!
Wireless Network Security
Wireless Network Security is a serious issue and is not to be taken lightly. There are countless tools out there to help hackers compromise your wireless security. So how do you minimize or possibly eliminate the risk of hackers accessing your data? Below I’ll list key items to help secure your wireless network; I’ll also list a few free tools that hackers use to grab your information. Wireless hackers are commonly referred to as `war drivers’ and ‘war walkers’.
The first item you’ll want to consider when working with Wireless Network Security is identification. Change your SSID to something other than the manufacturer’s default and disable broadcasting of your SSID. Many basic wireless scanners will not detect a hidden SSID. Check your wireless network hardware manual for more information on how to do this.
Wireless network security should also include allowing only your network cards to communicate with your wireless network. This is accomplished by enabling MAC address filtering; each network card has a Media Access Control address (MAC address) on the back, is 12 characters long, contains numbers and the letters `A,B,C,D,E or F’ of the alphabet. It will look something like this 0006250E0B81.
Encrypt the data that travels around your wireless network. WEP (called Wired Equivalent Privacy) is designed to provide protection by encrypting wireless data as it traverses the airwaves.
When using WEP, use a 128-bit key. The programs that can crack WEP need to collect a large number of encrypted data to figure out your key. This means that a hacker would need to sit around for at least a few hours (usually days) collecting this information – an unlikely scenario for most hackers. WEP is not flawless, but it is a big deterrent considering there are probably other, more inviting, none WEP networks nearby. Note, WPA is now preferred over WEP.
Note: Some wireless vendors sell devices that change the encryption key after a set amount of time. Changing the key every 20 minutes would make it just about impossible to break.
Wireless Network Security Tools
There are a number of wireless network security tools that can be used to grab the wireless information out of the air, some are detectable and some are not. On the Linux side, the most popular is Kismet and Airsnort; Both will display the hidden SSID’s, capture packets and will remain completely invisible to Intrusion Detections Systems because they operate by passively monitoring transmissions.
Another product growing in popularity is the wireless security scanner called WellenReiter at http://www.wellenreiter.net/index.html
Handheld PDA Wireless
Wireless Security Handheld tools include Pocket Warrior (http://pocketwarrior.sourceforge.net/pwdl.html) and Mini Stumbler (http://www.netstumbler.com)
So what wireless software should you use? If you really want to analyze your wireless security, I suggest Kismet. Ritchie at Tipsybottle.com has put together a superb how-to document at http://www.tipsybottle.com/technology/wireless/RedHat8-Kismet-HOWTO.shtml that will save you thousands of dollars in consultant fees! Ritchie’s document explains everything, from installing Linux to installing the software and configuring the drivers. This is by far the most complete, well written ‘wireless’ how-to document on the web.
I hope this helps! If you find other free products, please let me know.