How do we protect our wireless networks?

A wireless network helps devices to connect to a network so that users can roam freely without the need of any wires, eliminating the need for fixed desktop computers as stated by Salvador (1994). These wireless networks help in user’s convenience, mobility, expandability and much more. However, there are some drawbacks of using wireless networks than wired networks. One major concern is security.

Wireless networks are said to require more security since they are more likely to be prone to threats than wired networks (Anonymous, 2004). In today’s world with the advancement of technology and more people having at least on wireless device in their home, it is important to minimize the potential threats that occur to these wireless networks.

WHY ARE WIRELESS NETWORKS PRONE TO ATTACKS?

As stated by Kanawat (2011), due to computation and power limitation wireless networks are more vulnerable towards security threats. Since users open their internet connection to air waves there is a greater risk of security breach in wireless networks. Furthermore, the fact that people are not aware of how to activate built in security systems of networks is an issue (Wireless networks ‘open to hackers’; Vulnerable to attack: A survey shows passers-by could access wireless networks 2004). Therefore, network administrators or home users should be careful and use the following security measures in order to keep their network aware from potential attacks.

Wireless networking involves broadcast communication, which is far more susceptible to eavesdropping and jamming than wired networks.

Wireless devices are far more portable and mobile than wired devices. Some wireless devices such as smartphones and tablets have sophisticated operating systems but limited memory and processing resources with which to counter threats, including denial of service and malware.

Some wireless devices, such as sensors and robots may be left unattended in remote and hostile locations.

Wireless networks are also more vulnerable to active attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in communication protocols.

The mobility results in the number of risks. This greatly increases their vulnerability to physical attacks.

TYPES OF THREATS AND ATTACKS ON WIRELESS NETWORKS

Wireless components are said to contain 3 basic components: Transmission of data using radio frequencies, access points that provide connection to networks and users (Choi et al., 2008).

Each of the above-mentioned component provide a pathway for threats in the wireless network. This results in adjusting one of the three fundamental security objectives of confidentiality, integrity and availability as stated by Choi et al, 2008.

There are many types or threats that occur on wireless networks, below are few of them.

Evil Twin Attacks — Evil Twin Attack is the act where a hacker sets up fake access points to act as legitimate APs in order to gather personal or corporate information from a user, without his or her knowledge (What is an evil twin attack? 2020).

Warshipping — Warshipping is the process of concealing a tiny device inside a regular looking parcel and sending it to the victim. For this organization must be vigilant when accepting parcels. (Jones 2019).

Wardriving — Wardriving is the act of searching for wireless Wi-Fi networks by driving through an area. A research done by a software manufacturer of McAfee Inc, found out that in 10 minutes he was able to detect 241 openings while on a drive and if he wanted to, he could have surfed the radio waves in order to log into someone else’s network (Staples, 2006).

Piggy Backing — Piggy backing is the process on which attackers try to trick victims to gain access to their Wi-Fi networks. A research done by a firm shows that 54% of users admitted breaking the law using someone else’s Wi-Fi (Pain, 2007).

Wireless Sniffing — This is the way of capturing data packets within a given radio range (Fortinet, 2019) and this can be used by attackers to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers and passwords.

The below methods both apply to enterprise and personal wireless protection methods.

WIRELESS PROTECTION METHODS — ENTERPRISE WIRELESS PROTECTION

Use a Strong Password for Your Wireless Router’s Administrator Account

Since many wireless routers shift with their default passwords, it is important for network administrators to know that changing it to a strong password is a must. The password should be able to contain at least 8 character, along with a combination of number, special characters, symbols, etc.

Change Your Wireless Router’s SSID

Wireless routers are shipped using the same default SSID name and this will signal attacker that the wireless network hasn’t been configured. Therefore, network administrators should change their default SSID into a unique name.

Make Sure Your Wireless Router’s Firewall Is Enabled

Most wireless routers even though they have built-in-firewalls, most of these are shipped with the firewall turned off. Therefore, it is important to check whether the firewall is turned on and configured according to the organization’s needs.

Make Sure Wi-Fi Sense’s Network-Sharing Functionality Is Disabled on Windows 10 Devices

Windows 10 is said to be enabled with Wi-Fi Sense. This feature enables users to share their Wi-Fi with external parties, without the need of sharing network passwords.

Consider Using MAC Address Filtering

With this you can configure your wireless networks to allow connections from devices which are recognized to the organization. However, it takes quite a bit of time to configure these MAC addresses but being able to apply this will make the network much more secure.

Keep the Wireless Router’s Firmware Updated

Firmware is the type of software that gives a device it’s functionality for devices. It is required that you keep your wireless router’s firmware updated, since these firmware are prone to security vulnerabilities.

Log Out of the Wireless Router’s User Interface

Most of these wireless networks have a browser-based UI and if it is being left open, you will be hackers will be able to access this system. Therefore, it is a requirement to log out from these systems after the router has been configured.

Use WPA2 for Wireless Communications

Most wireless routers offer encryption and therefore it is important to choose a good encryption algorithm. Using WPA2 helps in making it harder to crack than other encryption protocol since it uses an advanced encryption algorithm. Other outdated methods like WEP can be easily hacked.

Disable WPS If You Are Using a Consumer-Grade Wireless Router

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) provides a user-friendly frontend application for encryption protocols, so that users can simply connect a device with a click of a button or entering a PIN. With that hackers exploit the vulnerability of WPS to gain access, and it is important to disable it.

Disable Your Wireless Router’s Remote Management Feature

Many routers contain the remote management feature in their routers, and this opens new possibilities for hackers to impose attacks on the wireless network. Therefore, it is important for network managers to disable this feature.

WIRELESS PROTECTION METHODS — PERSONAL WIRELESS PROTECTION

Change the name of your default home network

As mentioned above, home users should change their wireless network name in order for malicious attackers to not know what type of router you have. Furthermore, if cybercriminals get to know the type of manufacturer name a wireless network contains, then it will be easier for them to know what vulnerabilities it contains and exploit them.

Make sure you set a strong and unique password to secure your wireless network

Most wireless router placed in homes still contains their default passwords and usernames. This makes it easier for hackers to guess especially when they know the manufacturer.

Increase your Wi-Fi security by activating network encryption

As mentioned above in the table we could use WPA or high standard in order to securely encrypt the network. Users should move from less secure standards, such as WEP, which is one of the oldest standards into WPA or higher versions.

Turn off the wireless home network when you’re not at home

Turning wireless routers when not at home is strongly recommended. This helps in closing all windows for malicious hackers to gain access to.

Where is the router located in your home?

Placing wireless router in the middle of the house will not only provide equal access of internet but also it will help in not allowing hackers gain and intercept wireless signals easily. Since it is out of range.

Change your default IP address on the Wireless router

Changing the default IP address to a less common one helps better secure your home network and make it more difficult for hackers to track it.

Turn off the DHCP functionality on the router

Turn off the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server in your router which is what IP addresses are assigned to each device on a network. Instead, you should make use of a static address and enter your network settings.