Wireless networking has become the norm. Indeed, practically every laptop computer comes with a wireless card, and many businesses and municipalities have begun to offer free wireless services. Being able to use a wireless network while traveling has a lot of benefits. However, there are also a number of security issues to worry about. Wireless networks are easy for hackers to break into, and wireless access theft is likewise common. That means that mobile security is extremely important.
When this radical new technology was first introduced, it was relatively safe, since the new technology had not yet been cracked by unscrupulous parties. Wireless technology was uncommon in the work place, and few computers were vulnerable to attack. Now that it's gotten more widespread, the current encryption methods and wireless protocols are vulnerable to attack. Combined with carelessness on the part of users and administrators, that can lead to big problems. Cracking wireless networks is getting a lot easier to do and to access - there are tools for both Linux and Windows operating systems available for free online.
There are a number of different types of unauthorized access to wireless networks. They can be as simple as accidental association - when someone turns on a computer and it automatically latches onto someone else's wireless access point, or as unpleasant as identity spoofing and malicious association. Even accidental association can be a problem, since there could be a link to another group, and information could be exposed. That makes paying attention to your computer's wireless activities very important.
Malicious association is much less innocent, and involves deliberate access by crackers to a network. Using software to make their own machines appear to be legitimate points of access, these people can steal passwords, plant trojans, or launch network attacks. Other threats include non-traditional networks, like those creating by personal Bluetooth devices, ad-hoc networks (created between wireless computers without an access point), identity theft/MAC spoofing (when crackers listen in on network traffic and imitate the MAC address of computers with network privileges), man in the middle attacks, network injection and denial of service (DoS) attacks.
Since crackers are always developing new ways to compromise network security, it's important for people in IT fields to keep one step ahead of them. Individuals using personal computers with wireless access should also take care to protect their information. All wireless LAN devices should be secured, and anyone using a network needs to know some basic wireless security precautions. Monitoring for breaches and weaknesses is also important. Choosing an appropriate security protocol can also be important - common ones include WEP, WPA, and WPA2, but others, including TKIP, EAP, LEAP, and PEAP are also used. Use of smart cards and USB tokens also offers an extremely high form of security, creating a powerful new encryption code on a regular basis. This is an extremely secure way to conduct transmissions over wireless networks.
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