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Unwired Attacks

Unwired Attacks

Our wonderful world of wireless is always a popular topic in the news these days. It is the latest "big thing" in the technology world, and unwired devices are one of the most quickly adopted technologies in history. Lately, though, cropping up alongside the product announcements and all the flashy new gadgets we love to read about (and get our hands on), have been several news pieces about wireless networks that were hacked into. These articles detail how the wireless network worked as a convenient gateway ­ an open door allowing hackers to attack servers, steal information, gain access to confidential corporate data, and lots more.

All these varied horror stories have one thing in common ­ they all note that the wireless networks were so easy to hack into because they were set up with little or no security. Little or no security? What sort of self-respecting company would use network devices with no or almost no security? The sad fact is that many do, and it's not just a problem in the corporate world, where hacking becomes more public, but in the home market as well, where most personal users are also vulnerable.

Recently, while setting up a new wireless network at a friend's home, both he and I commented on how it was by far the easiest project we had ever undertaken. Remembering some of the countless hours spent building PCs, servers, wired networks, home theater installs, and the like, we sighed in relief at how easy it all seemed. We plugged it in, connected it to his wired LAN, threw in some PC cards, installed a couple of drivers, and were up and running in about two minutes flat, marveling at our technical expertise while enjoying a beer and browsing the Web from his backyard.

What made the install so easy? Not just the fact that it was a well-made product with simple instructions and a good set of drivers (it was!) ­ but that most wireless network devices, aiming for easy setup, have the absolute minimum of security enabled. Not having to navigate through credentials and access setup made our installation a breeze. However, while allowing my friend to be online outdoors ­ it also opened up his brand new wireless network to three of his neighbors.

The truth is that his wireless router, as well as all those out there in the corporate world, does have loads of security options in it ­ it's as simple as taking the time to set them up and configure all the users for more secure access. Starting on the path to wireless security is as simple as that. Failure to implement security measures is a growing problem that needs to be confronted and solved sooner rather than later, before wireless LANs unjustly get a bad name. The corporate world is moving more and more toward wireless because of its lower cost, increased range, and other great features. The last thing we want to see is all this new growth taking a step backwards.

Most of the time security holes are plugged after the first attack, rather than before. To prevent this problem, security simply needs to leave its current position as an afterthought, and move to the critical place in the planning process where it belongs.

Till next time, I'll be out by the pool, securely browsing the Web.

More Stories By Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond is the founder and editor-in-chief of BroadwayWorld.com, the premiere theater site on the net now receiving over 100,000 unique visitors a day. He is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media - a leading designer of entertainment and technology web sites. He is also the lead producer on BroadwayWorld.com's consistently sold-out Joe's Pub concert series, and Standing Ovations benefit concerts. Diamond was also named one of the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by Folio magazine. Robert holds a BS degree in information management and technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Visit his blog at www.robertdiamond.com.

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