We find that often homes or individuals are mostly in need of these services. Almost always we find that when a home user has a wireless network setup, that it does not have encryption, access restrictions, or the device itself is not locked down in any way (no administrative password, or left on the default password). This allows basically anyone who has a wireless card and a laptop to gain access to their network, and almost always their internet connection as well. In fact we did a survey of some wireless access networks in the Fredericksburg Virginia area, and found that around sixty percent (60%) where unsecured. These wireless access points could be used as points to launch viruses, send spam, or just simply to steal personal information. The above document is in PDF (Portable Document Format) and requires a PDF viewer such as adobe acrobat to view it.
Because the majority of open wireless networks belong to home owners and individuals the chances are that the systems at risk have personal information on them. Social security numbers, bank account information, and credit card numbers are very common for the average person to have on their computer. Once an attacker has access to a wireless network they can very easily get this personal information, usually without being detected until it's too late. What makes it so easy is that not only does the attacker not have to physically connect to your network, but usually the computer connected to these wireless access points are not fully secured. This allows for a high tech version of the old "smash and grab" technique used by thieves.
Internet Connection Hijacking
Often when a hacker comes along a wireless connection that is left open they will check to see if they can access the internet with it. In almost every case they are able to access the internet with little to no restriction. What this allows them to do is illegally download music, videos, and software, or worse launch an attack on another network or computer. This activity can very quickly slowdown your internet connection. What makes it even worse is that you are the one who is held liable for such actions.
If your wireless connection does not have access restrictions on it for example: limited to certain MAC addresses, you are basically allowing anyone to access your network. The problem here is that your wireless device often does not act as a firewall between your network and the rest of the world. This is just the same as if someone walked into your house, or network room and plugged their laptop directly into your network. This increases your exposure to viruses, and other attacks on your computers. Hackers may be able to access file shares or other services that are normally blocked by your firewall.
How do you correct these issues?
Normally most of these issues can be fixed by simply changing the configuration of your wireless devices, while sometimes it is needed to upgrade to a device that has more security features. Most devices have the features built into them to limit access to the device by MAC address, and to turn on other options such as WPA. Combining the various options together can stop the majority of intruders from misusing your wireless network. However there is always going to be someone who is very persistent, and will try their best to get into your network. This is why we also adjust the range of which your wireless devices cover. We can do this by changing device settings, but that can often have a more negative impact as it effects the entire signal, limiting it to a specific range. This is normally good for use in general, however there are times when full range is needed, but it goes too far out in a specific direction. In this scenario we adjust, or replace the antennas on your devices with ones that allow you to direct where the wireless needs to go thus reducing your area of vulnerability while still providing the needed coverage.
Contact us to have us perform an audit on your wireless network to find potential issues that you may have. Feel free to also take a look at our pricing information. In the end you will find that your network will be more secure, and other potential issues such as being held liable for attacks on other networks will decrease as well.
Last Updated: 03/10/2008 02:54 AM