How to Protect Your Wireless Network

One of the best things about a wireless network, whether you are at home or at work is that you no longer have to watch out for trailing cables wherever you go. However this does come with its own associated risks, not least that a number of networks are completely unprotected, i.e. they don’t need passwords or anything else for you to be able to hook up to that network.

Pubs and restaurants, even fast food places like MacDonald’s, have what are known as wireless hotspots, that is to say they have a wireless network that anyone in the vicinity with a computer can log on to without any issues; this is because the network because it is not password protected. Although protecting a personal wireless network is not too difficult, in fact most providers will provide walkthrough guides with the installation drive they provide; however, when it comes to a business wireless network, you need professional support.

The two most important issues concerning wireless networks are how the network is configured and installed. Protecting your network is extremely important as it is too easy for hackers to get in and install a virus on an unprotected network, and that virus could cause considerable harm to your business and its associated data.

A professional internet security service will ensure that you have the right kind of computer protection program, for example MacAfee solutions. For a home computer something like AVG is perfectly adequate and identifies dangerous or suspicious sites before you enter them. Of course there are a huge number of other companies out there offering their own unique content, including Symantec and Norton, so home protection is remarkably straightforward and shouldn’t cost you too much either.

If you intend to have a lot of computers on a network then the least problematic option is to have structured cabling installed as this helps communication and makes data available to all those employees who have clearance. Once the structured cabling is installed the routers and switches need to be configured and installed. The routers need to be in a central location so all machines are able to access it equally. The router is then connected to the power source and the internet source. Routers should have RS-232 serial ports in case dial up internet services are ever needed. You will also need to connect a wired router or hub. Modern computers have built in wireless adaptors.

Once you have sorted out the routers choose a name for the network the router transforms the data from the internet into a wireless form. The router manufacturer will already have set a generic name but you need to change that to one of your choice as it is safer – this is known as an SSID or service set identifier. These settings need to be the same for every computer on the network. Once that is done you need to install and configure the firewall and other security options such as a virus programme and a spam filter for the email. IP telephones (internet provider phones) need to be installed and configured.

Of course if your business does have its own IT or networking support, you can have them perform the full installation on your behalf. This will help ensure that it is done correctly and remove the risk of any future issues or breaches in security.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. For information on Network Support Services, he recommends Network 24.
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