Remember back in the day when CB radios were in? Fun, huh? Enthusiasts loved talking to truckers and other road warriors, though most people did more listening-in than talking—it was the nature of the fad, right? 10-4…good buddy…

Yet, while eavesdropping was an acceptable necessity in the case of CB-ing, you likely don’t find it acceptable for others to read your e-mail messages, see your website communication, or spy on your company or personal documents.

Because wireless signals travel through the air, they can be picked up by intruders. Good news: there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of your data being viewed by others.

Some Key Wireless Protection Suggestions:

  1. Encryption – This makes the receipt of your data typically useless. WPA2 is generally regarded as the most secure encryption technology widely available today. Encryption using WEP is not considered as secure.
  2. Wireless Key – The wireless key (equivalent to a password) allows you to decrypt the encrypted communication. We recommend a long, strong, unique key.
  3. Guest Account – These accounts typically allow the user to access the internet but not the local network.
  4. Administrative Password – This password is required to modify the wireless router settings. A strong unique password keeps a hacker from changing the router configuration. Some routers come with a default password that is easily guessed and is almost useless. Be sure to create your own password.
  5. SSID – This is the wireless “station” identifier. The SSID can “advertise” the owner (for example: “Jones Electric Supply”) and can compromise security. A better approach is to use a non-descript identifier instead of an easily identifiable name (example: “Sparky” instead of “Jones Electric Supply”) so that only the owner knows which network is his. The most secure approach is to turn off the SSID so that the identifier, though it exists, is not being broadcast. While turning the SSID off makes initially joining the network a bit more involved, it is the most secure approach.
  6. Wireless Isolation – You may allow the computers of non-company managed computers or the computers of guests to connect to your network. Wireless isolation allows the computer to access the internet but limits normal network access.
  7. MAC Filtering – Each network computer, printer, etc. has a unique MAC address. By default, any MAC address can connect to a wireless router. Restricting the allowed devices to just those you know and trust improves security.
  8. Turn It Off – If possible turn off wireless when it is not being utilized. .
  9. Reduce Signal Strength – The range of many wireless routers far exceeds the needs of the owner. If you don’t need the range the device provides, you may be able to turn down the signal strength.
  10. Update Firmware – As security, compatibility, and performance problems are discovered by the manufacturer, they will often issue updates to the firmware (device software). Updating the firmware can improve your security and the usability of the product.
  11. Replace Outdated Devices – While networking devices often last a long time, sometimes it is wise to replace them when the technology becomes outdated. This is especially true when more advanced security features are available.