WSI (Wireless Security Initiative)

GetNetWise launched the WSI public awareness campaign to help Internet users get-net-wise about wireless threats and precautions they should take.

Wireless Security

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TipsUsing Your Computer Wirelessly (WiFi)

Consumers and small businesses alike should take basic security precautions when using WiFi -- at home, in the office or at a public hot spot. If you have created your own hot spot or wireless network, this section will show you how to activate the many security settings on your basestation. This section also discusses how to use public hot spots more securely and how to prevent the physical loss of a laptop or handheld.

Password Protect Your Computer

Password protecting your computer is a general security precaution you should take whether you use WiFi or not. On both Windows and Mac OS you can password protect access to the core functions of the computer. Here's a step-by-step video tutorial for Windows XP users. Here's a step-by-step video tutorial for Apple Mac OSX users.

Activate Your Base Station Wireless Security Settings

  • Use these tutorials to secure your own WiFi basestation.
    The below tutorials should help guide you to activate the security settings on your base station. Even if you have a base station other than the brands detailed here, the types of WiFi security are similar from brand to brand.
    • Password Protect Your Basestation / Change the Default Password
      All too often when setting up a WiFi base station users will fail to change the manufacturer's default password. The default password for any base station model is well-known. Anyone within range of a base station using the default user name and password could commandeer it and create all sorts of mischief. We strongly recommend that you change the default username and password to your base station.
      How-to Tutorials: Linksys | NETGEAR | D-Link | Apple Airport
      Wrong Password?: If you don't know or can't remember the base station password there are a few steps you can take to access the settings [More Info]
    • Require Encrypted Passwords for WiFi Access
      If you don't want strangers accessing the Internet over your WiFi network, you can set the base station to allow access only to those users who enter the correct password. These passwords are encrypted (or scrambled) to prevent interception when transmitted. Older base stations use Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption to scramble the passwords. A newer encryption protocol, called Wireless Protected Access (WPA), is more secure. We recommend WPA. Here are instructions for both.
      How-to Tutorials for WPA Passwords: Linksys | NETGEAR | Apple Airport
      How-to Tutorials for WEP Passwords: Linksys | NETGEAR | D-Link | Apple Airport
    • Restrict WiFi Access to Only Your Computers (MAC Address Control)
      You can set your base station to allow WiFi access to only your computers. The base station will recognize your computer by a unique identifying number called a Machine Access Code (MAC) address. Each computer has one. Type in the addresses of each MAC address you want to allow onto your Wi-Fi network.
      How to Find A MAC Address: Windows XP OS
      How-to Tutorials: Linksys | NETGEAR | Apple Airport
    • Don't Broadcast Your SSID
      Another security option you may want to employ in conjunction with strong password access and/or MAC address control is disabling the SSID broadcast. By default, all Wi-Fi base stations broadcast their presence -- known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID) -- to anyone within range. It's a call sign. You can reconfigure the base station to not broadcast the SSID -- somewhat like a stealth mode. This is not an inherently secure option. Nevertheless, this tactic will keep out most random passersby.
      How-to Tutorial: Linksys | NETGEAR | Apple Airport
  • Risks: How much WiFi base station security do you need?
    Obviously, not everyone is exposed to the same risks when using a wireless network. Business users may have more risks than consumer users. Rural users may have fewer risks that urbanites. Learn more about your WiFi risks.

Public WiFi Access -- Tips and Risks

When using public WiFi hot spots there are several additional security precautions you should keep in mind. From safe shopping to password grabbing, learn how to keep your public WiFi experiences safe and rewarding [More Info].

Physical Loss -- Tips and Risks

The biggest risk associated with Wi-Fi activity is, in fact, the loss or theft of the Wi-Fi enabled laptop or other devices. Before taking any action to secure Wi-Fi communication, it is important to establish the physical security of the device itself [More Info].

Take Basic Computer Security Precautions -- Tips and Tools

Our GetNetWise Security page provides some basic tips to protect yourself and the network from hackers, thieves and cyber-terrorists. Tips include using tools like firewalls and anti-virus software, being in control of your software, and knowing when to update critical software. [More Info]

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