|How to Protect Wireless Remote Connections
Any employee that is working remotely via wireless connection should not only employ the security solutions and procedures outlined in this month’s theme article, “Create a Secure Remote Working Environment,” but they should also take measures to secure the wireless connection itself. Here are some things remote employees should do to protect their wireless connections:
Enable Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). WPA and WPA2 (the newest generation of WPA security) encrypt any wireless data that is transmitted, and prohibits eavesdropping. An older, less secure wireless encryption method is the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). A strong password (at least eight characters, using both numbers and letters) should be used when this encryption is set up.
Change the network name. Routers and access points use a network name called the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Manufacturers typically name all the SSIDs the same, so the default network name should be changed when setting up the connection.
Close your network. Many Wi-Fi systems allow the user to close the network by blocking the SSID from being broadcast, making it more difficult for hackers to find.
Placement of the wireless access point. Wireless signals can travel up to 200-300 feet away from the access point. If they must pass through metal and wood, that distance decreases. To lessen the chances that the wireless signal will travel very far outside a house or building where it could be intercepted, the access point should be placed in the middle of the structure, away from doors and windows.
Change the default login. When setting up an access point or router you will be able to enter your network address and account information. These tools are protected with a login that asks for a username and password. Usually the default logins are simple and very well-known to hackers, so they should be changed immediately. And of course they should be hard to guess.
Set up a MAC Access Control List. The access point should be set so that it only enables network access to trusted Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. Every network card has a unique MAC identifier, and this way rogue wireless connections can be filtered out by only letting trusted MAC addresses that are on the MAC List have access to the wireless network.
Turn off network when not in use. It may go without saying, but shutting down the wireless network when it’s not in use is one surefire way to help keep intruders out.
These are some relatively easy ways to enhance the security of a wireless connection. Following these practices and employing the proper antivirus, firewall, and VPN technologies will help create a secure connection as important data and information flows in and out of your small business’ four walls.
Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, Microsoft’s four time Partner of the Year and one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Carl and his company manage over 400 active accounts ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.
eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, managed print, PCI DSS compliance, green computing, mobile workforce technology, information security, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.
Carl Mazzanti is also a frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest and contributor at Microsoft-focused events, including frequent prominent roles at the Microsoft Inspire (Worldwide Partner Conference / WPC).
Carl, a serial Entrepreneur, gives back to the community through Entrepreneur teaching engagements at Georgetown University, the company’s ocean wildlife conservation effort, the Blue Project, and Tree Mazzanti.