Wi-Fi Hotspot Security

When you build a wireless hotspot for your business you might inadvertantly build a free wireless hotspot for the public--unless you secure your wireless access points against unwanted connections.

As you probably know several technologies are available that help secure wireless access. Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) can help encrypt connections however that technology has proven to be easy to crack. Wireless Protected Access (WPA) is a big improvement over WEP, but even so WPA is also vulnerable. The next generation of WPA, called WPA2, was ratified by the Wi-Fi Alliance last year and now many vendors have integrated the technology into their hardware and software solutions. This week Microsoft released an update for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 that helps ease the use of hotspots that offer WPA2 connectivity.

In a nutshell, WPA2 is stronger than WPA because it uses AES encryption instead of RC-4. WPA2 can also use pre-shared keys or 802.1x authentication. But even with the advent of WPA and WPA2 there undoubtedly are enterprises which still use WEP without realizing how easy it is to break its security.

How do you handle wireless security concerns in your company?

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