Wireless Networking

Wireless networking has proved to be a popular and convenient technology for both homes and businesses, but this new connectivity option also has the potential to be an easy way for computer criminals and troublemakers to gain access to your computer and the information it contains.

Wireless networking, popularly known as WiFi, allows computers and personal digital assistants to connect to a local area network as well as the internet through the use of radio waves. By not having to be
physically connected to the network via a networking cable, the user has the freedom to do their work anywhere within the transmitting range of the network base-station.

This ability to work anywhere allows offices to be configured without having to be concerned of where the network jack is in relation to the computer, you can place the computer anywhere you have electricity.
When using a laptop, the user can be connected just about anywhere. Wireless networking can also save users money in that as new employees are added or offices are moved, new networking cable does not need
to be installed.

The drawback to this new high-tech wonder is the potential security risk. In the past, if someone wanted to gain access to your home or office network they needed physical access to the equipment or they
would need to try to break in from the Internet—not an easy task usually. However, with a wireless access point on your network, a person sitting in your parking lot with a laptop and freely available
software can potentially gain access to your network, computers and data just as easily as you can. This practice is know as wardriving.

If your office computer systems contain sensitive information such as personal information, medical or financial records, etc., you will want to have other precautions in place to prevent the theft of that
information to protect yourself and others from identity theft, lawsuits, fines and other liabilities.

There are also Federal regulations that deal with computer security such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that impose additional
security measures.

These regulations dictate the computer security standards that financial, health care and insurance offices have to adhere to or face penalties and fines depending on the severity of the violation.

One way to reduce your chances of getting hacked is to encrypt your wireless network. Refer to the owners manual for your access point on how to configure this option. This will prevent the casual wardriver from getting onto your network.

Additional measures involve changing the way your wireless network appears to outside users, restricting the computers that can access the network and adding additional layers of encryption.

Wireless networking can be a great benefit to your office if you take the right precautions and keep it safe and secure!

If you have any questions or needs regarding wireless network security, please contact us!

Additional resources:
Man charged with tapping into wireless computer system

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