Today, wireless network becomes a really crucial asset in modern offices. It expands a business’ network operations and increases the employees’ productivity. Besides, a wireless LAN (WLAN) gives a more convenient and affordable option than a wired network when it comes to installation. To set up such a network, a business is able to provide its employees and guest users a quick access to the internet while they are around the office with the help of IT professionals.
Compared to a wired network, a wireless network is easier to install. The equipment including wireless access points and wireless routers come with substantial settings preconfigured. BUT, special attention must be paid to the basic configurations and other settings. If the configurations are improperly set, the network security must encounter with catastrophic breaches. Consequently, you must ensure that the configurations undergo proper setup in order to protect its users and block unauthorized intruders from your wireless network.
How to Strengthen Your Network Security
To protect your wireless network and make it a business-class network, these are 5 tips worth considering for your wireless network security.
1. Change the SSID on the networking equipment
Each router or access point has default username and password. The default name, or the Service Set Identifier), is usually the name of the vendor while the password is “password”. It is easy to think that all hackers notice this basic configuration. If you forget to change both, you just let them intrude to your wireless network and find weakness in your network security. So, change the passwords on all device accounts especially the administrator account. IT Experts suggest that you change the SSID, user names, and password using random combinations of at least 10 letters and numbers.
2. Enable data encryption
No matter what WLAN gear you use, all supports data encryption. What distinguishes them is just the strength of the encryption. For instance, Wired Equivalent Privacy, or well-known as WEP, is considered weaker than Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 protocols. Most networking equipment includes WEP as part of network security feature. In fact, this encryption protocol is not reliable due to its easiness of being hacked. If possible, use the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) like WPA or WPA2 for greater security. If your offices use more than one WLAN networking devices, all of the devices should be set to the same protocol. Also, you must regularly upgrade your devices so they are compatible with the latest encryption protocol.
3. Enable Authentication
It is the easiest to apply and works by allowing access only to authorized users to connect to the wireless network. You just have to enable user authentication in the way you prefer. In fact, there are some ways to enable authentication, depending on the features of the networking equipment. In networking devices that support WPA2, the authentication is done through 802.1X/EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol). In networking devices that support ACLs (Access Control Lists), the authentication is done by configuring the ACLs to filter the traffic and only allow authorized computers to access the WLAN. Authentication can also be done through MAC (Media Access Control) address filtering. Every networking device has a MAC address that can be registered to your network. With MAC filtering, only computers registered in the network can access the WLAN. The weakness of the latter way is it must not used alone for network security due to the high possibility of MAC address spoofing.
4. Turn off DHCP but turn on built-in firewalls
This network security should not be done all alone and just act as a supporting step. You should turn off Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) on your networking equipment because fixed IP addresses is more secure than the dynamic. The use of the fixed IP addresses helps prevent unauthorized access in your DHCP pool. In opposite, turn on the firewalls to block malicious traffic from infiltrating your network. For your information, most networking equipment has built-in firewalls.
5. Turn off the “broadcast” feature
You should opt to hide your Wi-Fi broadcast by turning off the broadcast feature of your networking device. This way, your WLAN will be more difficult to find, especially by hackers. In fact, this feature is not important for private use in your company. Or, if you want to help users log by making use of the network security feature, try to hide your access points. You can also set the radio power of your wireless network so it cannot reach somewhere outside the building.
The five tips are surely able to strengthen your network security. However, you must improve the security gradually. One of the ways is through installation of additional security devices like IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) and VPN (Virtual Private Network). Besides, regular anti-virus and patches updating is also something you must not overlook. A business-class network security is started with strong, basic security steps.