The first wireless telecommunications was established in early 20th century, within successful transmitted radio signal across Atlantic Ocean. And it was known as the first wireless communication across the ocean. However, in this time likewise the computers were not widespread, the inventors and developers of wireless have not had in mind that this technology will be so spread and to carry out a security into the wireless telecommunications. Whereabouts, nowadays computers are worldwide spread in every home, in every office, and especially when we are on the road or when we travel. We used them in fact as our main devices to be able to complete and conduct our everyday tasks throughout wireless technology. Such as, to share picture, media, use different instant chatting application, video and voice calls – skype, etc. Additionally, wireless technologies have been very popular recently, in home and business users. Due to the fact that it is costs-effective, useful, no mess cables into the build or house, it is easy to set up, and it provides a great mobility.
Owing to the expansibility, mobility and usability, the wireless technology and telecommunication could be at great risk. Therefore, in this article we will introduce the readers within the different categories coverage range wireless networks. Then we will go over the wireless standards, as well as the most commonly known security threats. Last but not least, we will introduce the readers with the basic wireless security measures. And finally we will summarise the article with the conclusion.
Wireless network it is used to transport data between devices and among devices. They are often categorized into three groups based on the coverage range, such as: Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWAN), WLANs, and Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN). Where WWAN it involves wide coverage area of technologies, such as, Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), 2G cellular, and many other. In the other hand, WLAN unlike the traditional wired network does not need cables, it connects computers and other parts to the network using an access point device, and it has coverage areas of up to 300 feet. In contrast the WLAN, the WPAN is representing the wireless personal area network technologies such as Bluetooth and Infra-Red. Please note that these technologies receive and send information using electromagnetic waves.
Wireless technologies comply with a variety of standards and offer different levels of security features. The advantages of standards are to encourage mass production, as well as to allow products from different vendors to interoperate. For this article we have limited the discussion to the most commonly known IEEE 802.11 and the Bluetooth standard.
Moreover, the two standards are described below:
- IEEE 802.11 standard. Are first developed in 1997. It is designed to support medium range, higher data rate for applications, for instance, Ethernet networks and to mobile address and portable stations. In addition, WLAN standards are designed for 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps wireless transmissions. Hence advanced support it was followed in 1999 by 802.11a, then by 802.11b standard, where the later on the security vulnerabilities of the standard have been exposed. Another standard still in draft has been developed – 802.11g, yet the massive WLAN productions now are based on the 802.11b standard.
- Bluetooth standard. It is an ad-hoc network standard. Are designed owing to interconnect different types of devices between each other’s, such as computers, mobile phones, PDAs, etc. Their applications include wireless synchronization, e-mail, internet access using personal computer connections, hands free headsets and car kits, and many others.
Wireless Security Threats
As the effect of that the wireless networks are widely spread and they are available around us it represents the potential treats in wireless network. Also the security threats could be made from errors and to personal privacy. However, the most commonly known concerns in wireless security are devices theft, vulnerabilities, denial of service attacks, malicious code and hackers, services theft and foreign and industrial espionage. Moreover, authorized and unauthorized access of the wireless device may commit fraud and theft. As well as, malicious hackers may break into a network without authorizations, by exploiting the vulnerability, by brute forcing the password or other security vulnerability flow to do hard or to gain personal information or needs. In addition, malicious hackers or crackers are usually people from outside of an organization or agency. Conversely, users within organization and agency are a threat as well. Furthermore, they could gain access to the wireless access point by eavesdropping on wireless device communication. Additionally, malicious code includes such as, worms, Trojan horses, viruses, or other unwanted code, application that are designed for purpose to damage files or bring down the system or the entire network. Service theft is when for instance an unauthorized user gains access to the network and in worst case customer data or network resources. And last, foreign and industrial espionage covers gathering data from corporation or intelligence information from government. Especially in wireless network espionage is very simple because the transmission of data is across radio waves.
Wireless Security Measures
From the previous paragraph we can conclude that actually wireless network it has different approaches and methods of threats. Therefore, in this section we will concentrate of how to apply security measures in our wireless network, either are for a personal or organizational usage.
First step is to create a Security Policy. It defines what it means to be secure, as well as includes restrictions on wireless LAN functions, traffic, flow, and access. Second is to configure for Secured Network Access, by implementing and configuring setup password protection, also to physically secure the WLAN and to secure the WLAN. It can be secured from intruders by wireless authentication, such as: WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) – which can be hacked very easily); WPA and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) – are more secure alternatives, where unlike the WEP and WPA, WPA uses the AES (Advance Encryption Standard) and it supports two modes of authentication – WPA2-PSK (Pre-shared key) and WPA2-Enterprise (EAP/RADIUS) mode. Thirdly by controlling wireless visibility by Service Set Identifier (SSID), this is visible and real name of the wireless network. Last but not least, by securing the network with virtual segmentation, called Virtual LAN. Finally, we recommend on-going security maintenance and continue education.
Today wireless networks are helping and definitely providing the opportunity to the organizations, individuals and business to cut costs, to increase the productivity and mobility. By following the above recommended security measures the everyday work will in fact continue without any interference. The key to keep up and creating a security wireless network is on-going running business and organization.