Wireless networks and laptops are very popular for their ease of use and portability. The Internet can be reached via radio waves without having to plug your machine into a network. It is with the same ease of connecting that malicious individuals connect to unprotected networks. Attackers conduct drive-by eavesdropping, called 'war driving' to listen in on unsecured devices in homes and businesses. Take the following steps to secure any wireless equipment. Consult your equipment's manual for specific details.

  • Change the default passwords and default SSID, which is an identifier that is sometimes referred to as the "network name". Each wireless device comes with its own default settings, some of which inherently contain security vulnerabilities. Most default passwords are known to hackers.
  • SSIDs should not contain the organization's name or any other identifying information about the organization, the department in which it is located, or its function.
  • Turn off broadcasting the SSID if possible; this will make it more difficult for a hacker to gather your SSID information.
  • Turn on encryption - Encryption settings should be set for the strongest encryption available in the product.
  • Change the default cryptographic key - Many vendors use identical shared keys in their factory settings.
  • Use MAC ACL filtering - Networks use a unique hardware address identifier called a MAC, to help regulate communications between machines on the same network. The MAC Access Control List (ACL) can permit certain MAC addresses access to the network while denying access to other MAC addresses, limiting access to only authorized computers.
  • All organizations should have a policy regarding use of wireless devices.