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WiFi Encryption - WEP versus WPA and why you should care

, 29 Feb 2012 CPOL
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Keep your house safe

It’s very easy once you gain access to someone’s WiFi network to actually get all of the information off your computer like banking info, credit cards and CVN’s, Browser History and passwords etc… Someone can even install a keylogger on your computer without you knowing that records every keystroke you make.

When you setup your WiFi at home you will need to choose your encryption method. Most people do not know what the difference is between them and they just randomly click on one that sounds like they heard it from the movie Tron or the Matrix... Without getting into the techie details that will not likely help you decide Keep the following 4 points in mind.

  1. Do NOT use WEP. This was broken many years ago, in fact, pretty much anyone with any Linux skills can download a few free tools to crack a WEP Password within a few minutes.
  2. Try Not to use WPA. WPA was also cracked about 3 or 4 years ago if I recall, but it’s much more difficult than WEP and is somewhat limited to what you can do with it once it is cracked.
  3. USE WPA2 whenever possible. If it is supported by all the devices you use at home you should be using WPA2. This to my knowledge has not yet been cracked.
  4. Disable WPS. WPS is the Wizard security setup. This was a bad idea from the begining and takes the nice long, secure and complex WPA2 Password and shortens with the use of a unique device key and a calculation. This has been cracked for both WPA and WPA2. Just make the long password yourself and write it down.
  5. Do NOT use a password you use for anything else, as this password is what people dig for. And if they do get it, they will use that to try and get into your email, computer, cell phone, bank account etc… as most people pick one password and use it for everything like their dogs name or whatever.

What about the SSID?

You will also need to choose an SSID. The SSID is what gets broadcasted into the air, so you probably shouldn’t use your kids names, or your name or anything that might reveal your password when you choose your SSID. Actually to be honest, my SSID at home is OPP-RemoteOfffice6. (Where I live OPP is the local Police Department) Why would I choose that? Well who in their right mind would try and crack into a Police stations WiFi? I have no idea if there are laws around what you call your wifi hotspot, but it seemed logical to me a few years ago, and still makes sense to me now so it has just stuck for me. Whenever I setup a relative's or friend's wifi hotspot that is what I pick for them.

If you choose a good password for your WPA2 wifi network and do the other things like install/enable a local Firewall, Virus and Malware programmes you should be relativly secure. Of course times change and things continually get hacked so be aware.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Vince Yonemitsu
Systems / Hardware Administrator Code Project Solutions Inc.
United States United States
I did my schooling at Humber College in the late 90's when everyone was trying to learn how to fix Y2K bugs in COBOL. It was then that I decided that I wanted nothing to do with programming. When all was said and done I have spent the last 12 years (and growing) in various Networking, Support, and Server Management positions for various private and public sector employers. It’s funny how I have now come full circle and I am again surrounded by programmers. Smile | :)
 
When I manage to get away from the office I am usually fishing, off-roading, golfing, canoeing or camping. Pretty much anything that keeps me outside. Actually I just bought my first DSLR camera and I think its going to soak up much of my time and resources over the next little while.

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GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembern.a.n.16-May-12 12:53 

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