Posts Tagged ‘WPA2’

In my last week post I explained how to secure your wireless router, to reply to that post there were indeed some questions on how to choose a good Wi-Fi router, so here I am with this post dedicated to the top ten tips which will help you to buy a Wi-Fi router:

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1) Should I buy a portable router?

If you need to take your Wi-Fi on the road, a new breed of router making its mark is the portable. It can travel with you because it uses a 3G signal from a cellular carrier for back to the Internet. This means it won’t be as fast as hooking it up to your cable modem, but what you lose in throughput you gain in movement. Because they’re not as fast, most of them only support 802.11g instead of the faster 802.11n, which also keeps the cost down.

2) Are dual-band routers better than single-band routers?

802.11n routers come in two flavors—single-band and dual-band. Single-band routers use the 2.4-GHz band, the same frequency used by G routers. Dual-band N routers support 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands. Even at 2.4 GHz, 802.11n routers are faster than G routers because they make better use of the frequency range in the band, and they’re better at bouncing signals off surrounding surfaces such as furniture and walls. Average throughput for single-band N routers is usually five times as fast as G routers. Some routers can achieve as much as 100 Mbps more by switching up. The answer is, therefore, an overwhelming yes: Dual-band band routers, though generally more expensive, outperform single-band (2.4-GHz) routers. Simultaneous dual-band routers are also more efficient in their throughput.

3) Do I need two, three, or four antennas, or hidden ones?

Because the speed in N routers depends heavily on signal bouncing and multiple transmitters and receiver antennas, the ideal antenna configuration is 4-by-4. This means the router has four antennas, each of which has a transmitter and a receiver. Generally, however, most high-end N routers come with a 3-by-2 or 3-by-3 antenna configuration. While antennas come in all shapes and sizes, most are visible, tubular antennas. The crucial point to consider is the number of transmitters and receivers built into the router. More is better.

4) Is 802.11n really that much better than 802.11g ?

Very true, 802.11g Wi-Fi router, which uses a technology that has been around for seven years, is still popular. (802.11 is the IEEE’s technical name for wireless networks; the brand name used for products is Wi-Fi which encompasses many different types of 802.11 technology.) Small businesses buy G routers because they are cheaper and perform adequately. Some 802.11g routers include specialized functions that are essential in business, such as powerful policy-based firewalls and threat-management features. In the home, however, speed is far more important, and there the 802.11n Wi-Fi router is king.

5) What is the choice of simultaneous dual-band router?

Some routers with the dual-band features transmit N signals simultaneously in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. By using both frequencies, the routers achieve longer range and better signal strength, and, as you might expect, they don’t require manual switching between bands. It’s like having two concurrent wireless networks, but that’s only useful if you have clients that use 5GHz, which are few are far between unless you purchase after-market 802.11a/n cards that use it. These routers are generally more expensive than regular dual-band routers, but are worth the money.

6) What about guest access??

An very recommended feature, Guest access is one of the most useful, and most underrated, features of a wireless router. Routers with guest access, can separate one Wi-Fi network into two. This allows friends to use your broadband access without knowing the password for your main network, so they can’t get to your files. You can achieve a similar configuration with routers that support virtual LANs (VLANs), but the steps in setting up multiple VLANs are more difficult.

7) Tightening access to your router with MAC access control

If you are still not convinced that your wireless network is secure after encrypting your Wi-Fi router with Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) —and you better be using WPA2—don’t worry because this step ensures that only your computers can access your Wi-Fi network. MAC filtering allows or prevents computers with certain MAC addresses to access your network. Like a fingerprint, no two network adapters can have the same MAC address, so snooping neighbors are out of luck when you enable that MAC filter. Your router will only accept handshakes from your computers and other Wi-Fi network devices, filtering everything else. Conversely, you can deny access to specific devices by enabling the deny option instead. MAC addresses can be spoofed, so this isn’t foolproof, but neither are doors;

8) What is Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)?

Wi-Fi Protected Setup is a standard for securing your laptop with a Wi-Fi router. The technology simplifies the encryption process that users otherwise have to go through to secure a Wi-Fi network. Is the technology simpler to use than the schemes that preceded it? That depends on the laptop and operating system you use. Vista’s Windows Connect Now (WCN), for instance, is compliant with WPS. When WPS does work, it’s a simple process for setting up WPA2 without thinking about it. Getting the configuration to work on laptops that don’t support it (in both software and hardware), however, is quite an ordeal. Should you then look for this feature in a router? No. WPS isn’t essential, and, all too often, some part of your setup won’t be compatible. Still, many newer routers offer it, and, when it does work, it’s worthwhile.

9) Turning your router into a gaming powerhouse ?

A good tip if you are a core gamer, No one wants their Internet games to interfere with YouTube videos, Skype calls and Web surfing, or vice versa. The answer lies in the QoS (quality of service) feature in your router. A router with QoS can separate network packets and prioritize your network traffic, allowing your most important applications to get the largest bandwidth chunk. Luckily, games don’t take up a lot of bandwidth, but they can slow your network down when you are sharing the connection.

10) Is a router with a strong firewall important?

most routers include a firewall, and many use the SPI (stateful packet inspection) firewall, which is better than the older NAT firewall alone. A few routers provide a range of manual settings on a firewall. Are these routers better? Not really. Typically, manual firewall settings are designed for specific usage needs and not for enhancing the overall capability of a firewall. As long as a Wi-Fi router has a SPI firewall, that’s enough for most us.

So here few important things you may need to consider before choosing a good Wi-Fi router, but the market is already flooded with Wi-Fi routers, so finding a good one could be simpler than you might think, if you know what you’re looking for 🙂

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As you know everything these days is wireless. But, rarely do we care how we connect, instead often just get online. A lot of wireless routers that are available offer very useful features that you probably didn’t know about. Chances are if you’ve never accessed your router’s settings, you are just running the defaults which means your neighbors or anyone who drives by could potentially access your data or perform a criminal act that points to you. However, there are times when it’s OK to take the shields down and let people leech off your network. For that reason, you may want to periodically check who is accessing it. In most routers, they have a status page to display connected computers.

To learn how to secure a wireless router there are three important things to know: SSID (Service set identification), MAC (Media Access Control) Address, and WEP(Wired Equivalent Privacy) / WPA (Wifi Protected Access), don’t worry I will not bug on this tech terms. Let me explain it in 5 simple steps..

Step 1) Access Your Wireless Router’s Configuration: log in to your wireless router administrative control panel. This is usually done by opening a browser and going to http://192.168.1.1 (for most Linksys routers) or http://192.168.0.1 (for most D-Link routers). Check the user manual or quick-start guide that came with your router if either of those do not work. (Once there change the Admin password. Most wireless routers ship with a blank password. It is essential that this is changed else a potential hacker could get into your router configuration and lock you out of your own hardware. Many Linksys wireless routers, use the word “admin” as the default password. Either way, you should change this to something only you know and never give this out to anyone.)

Step 2) Change the SSID name: The SSID is your Network Name. That is, it’s how other computers know what to look for when connecting to your wireless network. Linksys wireless routers use “linksys” as their default name. D-Link uses, get ready, “dlink” as their default. Changing this to a unique name, but not something related to a personal password or anything personally identifiable. My tip i have seen wireless networks named things like, “computer-virus” and they like to scare people off.

Step 3) Disable/Turn-off SSID broadcast: By default, almost all wireless routers broadcast the SSID name you setup above. This means that anyone within range of your router (neighbors, random strangers driving by, criminals, etc.) can find out the name of your network and thus try to connect to it. Make it a bit harder by disabling this broadcast feature. Combined with the unique name above, these two steps will certainly ward off the casual wi-fi poachers.

Step 4) Enable WPA or WPA2 encryption: This is switched off by default. There is a choice of WEP, WPA and WPA2. Currently the latest encryption method is WPA2 so use this where possible. Both your wireless router and wireless PC adaptor must be configured to use the same encryption, it is the most effective and most important part of securing your wi-fi network as well as the information you send across it.

The benefits here are 2-fold:

1) It makes access to your wireless network password-protected.
2) It encrypts all the data you send while browsing the internet (credit card numbers, email passwords, etc.).

You’ll want to use WPA2 if your wireless router gives you that option and your computer supports it. If it does not, go with WPA. Do not even bother with WEP encryption, as this has been proven to be hackable in minutes and really only offers a false sense of security. You will be required to enter a password, or “shared key,” when setting this up. For this, you’ll want to pick a long string of both capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers. Stick with a string of ten characters or more to be safe, although some security experts suggest going with something over twenty characters. Keep in mind that you might have to give this out to trusted visitors and weekend guests, so don’t make this the same as any other password you use.

Step 5) (Optional) MAC address filtering: As said this is more optional which works well on most branded routers. All hardware has a unique MAC address associated with it, including your PC adaptor card. This MAC address can be added to access control list in the wireless router. Only devices added to the router’s access control list are allowed to be connected. Why did I make it optional simple with MAC address filtering, you can tell your wireless network to only allow access from certain computers by inputting their MAC address into the router settings. However, from a hacker’s point of view, what this does is give them a list of MAC addresses that can access the network and gives them one more piece of information to help them snoop around on your network. Also other good tip with this is to Disable web access to the Control Panel. The fact is, once you set up all this stuff you rarely have to access the Control Panel anyway, so this just makes it all the more secure.

Final get some help out of your router manufacturer like update your router latest router firmware from the manufacturer’s website and installed in the router. This will hopefully fix any bugs that have been found for your router and also help with any known security flaws in the router itself., finally backup all router settings. If you reset the router back to its factory default settings even by mistake, your configuration can later be easily restored back with this.

Tip: The major wireless router manufacturers are Linksys/Cisco, D-Link, and Netgear. You will see these brands dominate in most retail stores. Look for sales because these manufacturers often discount models from week to week and you can sometimes find a good deal for substantially less cost. Online, you will also see brands, such as Asus, Belkin, Buffalo Technology, Beetel and SMC, all worthy of consideration

To even make it complete, I found the right video where GetConnected hosts Mike Agerbo and AJ Vickery discuss wireless router security and give some simple tips on how to keep yourself and your home computers protected from an unexpected attack

Happy WIRELESS Surfing..