Is Your Wireless Network Naked!

Is your wireless network naked? Computer thieves are prowling the streets looking to steal your identity. Hackers have a new hobby - war driving. Growing ranks of war-drivers are breaking into wireless networks for fun and profit. These wireless snatchers are pilfering what is meant to be private and using it for their own profit. The very nature of a wireless network invites theft. Owners must take the time to install the best security available for their wireless network.

A wireless network is simple. All you need is a wireless router and a wireless network card. The wireless router is the gateway to the Internet. It transmits and receives wireless signals from wireless network cards. The wireless network card is connected to your PC or laptop. It can transmit and receive wireless signals from one wireless router at a time. A wireless router continuously broadcasts its availability. "Here I am" it cries, to any PC who can listen. When a wireless network card comes into range, it hears the broadcast. The two devices negotiate the terms of their connection. The radio signals that are used can go right through most walls. Using powerful antennas, wireless routers and wireless network cards can talk to each other up to two miles away!

War-drivers are driving around looking for nude wireless networks. Using laptops and powerful antennas, they cruise the streets looking for wireless broadcasts. When they detect one, the trouble begins. First they determine if they can break into the wireless network. It has been reported that 60% of wireless networks do not have any security and are wide open to illegal access. These are naked networks. By examining the broadcasts from a wireless router and downloading replies from other wireless network cards; war-drivers can determine the level of security being used. If only minimal security is present, they break in. Most just surf the web and collect email, leaving you none the wiser. Others steal your identity, tamper with your PC, or worse, leave virus bombs behind. These thieves then mark the spot for others to see. A symbol is painted on the building, declaring, "Here is a unsecure wireless network." They are even publishing lists of bare wireless networks. Using GPS they direct other data thieves to exposed victims.

The problem is that manufacturers don't turn on wireless security. The wireless router begins to work right out of the box, but it takes tedious "configuring" to turn on advanced security features. Manufacturers have not made turning on security easy. Another problem is wireless routers still include older security protocols that don't work! For example WEP wireless security was cracked just months after it was invented!

Quick Tip-Bit: If your wireless is not labeled "Security-enabled wireless network (WPA)" it can be used by war-drivers. I recommend using WPA-PSK (or WPA-Personal) security. It has not been cracked by war-drivers. You must also change the broadcast name from the default and add a password to the configuration logon screens. If you suspect your wireless network is "exposing" you, call PC Bits at: 763-360-2163. www.pcbitsweb.com

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