WiFi network security, or sometimes wireless network security, deals with the prevention of unauthorized access to data transmitted across WiFi networks and other wireless network security risks.
As such, it’s a subset of computer network security, which also deals with wired networks that connect computers, servers, and other devices together using physical cables.
WiFi security has never been more important than it is today because the networks it aims to protect play a critical role in virtually all aspects of our lives. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to communicate with our loved ones, collaborate with work colleagues, browse the web, stream music and movies, and so on.
Thanks to wireless security, we can do these and many other activities without our personal data falling into the wrong hands and being used for all kinds of malicious purposes — at least if the right wireless security network standard is used to encrypt transmitted data.
The foundation of wireless security are the following security protocols, which are used to encrypt wireless traffic to provide data confidentiality:
For the best wireless security, you should always use the newest type of network security protocol supported by your WiFi device. The good news is that most new routers default to WPA3, so you don’t need to manually choose between multiple available wireless network security types.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to check if you’re really using the newest protocol available, and we explain how to do so later in this article.
The possible problems are:
However it is not as difficult as it may sound to make your wireless network secure. Securing your network will prevent others from stealing your bandwidth and will stop hackers from taking control over your machines via your own WiFi network.
Firstly conduct a site survey with NetSpot WiFi Site Survey tool. It will immediately help you detect and eliminate rogue APs — the ones that were deployed without permission.
Site survey also helps expose unauthorized workstations. Organize an inventory of laptops and PDAs with wireless adapters, with user, MAC address and operating system information. This data is used for WLAN access controls. In case WLAN adapters are misplaced or stolen an up-to-date list is crucial.
You may discover close-by APs and stations not belonging to your network. A good thing to do is survey public areas neighboring with your facility, including all levels. The MAC addresses should be recorded, along with network name (SSID) and channel. Use this data to avoid the cross-interference and scratch the possibility of false-positive intrusion alerts.
It is recommended to get APs with high-grade antennas with strong yet tight signal. Their narrow focus will provide better security for the signal and less leaking outside where a wardriver can intercept it.
A few simple steps have to be taken to secure your WiFi network:
To secure your wireless network, you need to use the newest security protocol supported by your router. Ideally, that protocol should be WPA3 because that’s the only protocol without severe vulnerabilities.
Here are just some examples of how WPA3 delivers better security:
If your router doesn’t support the WPA3 security protocol, then you should consider getting a new one because older protocols contain severe vulnerabilities that could put your personal information at risk.
To check if you’re currently using WPA3, you can download NetSpot, a free wireless analyzer.
With the help of its Discover mode, you can instantly see the security settings of all available WiFi networks, including your own.
While the WPA3 security protocol does minimize the risk posed by weak passwords, you should still use a strong, unique password to secure your WiFi network and router.
Ideally, your password should meet the following requirements:
If you have trouble remembering random nonsensical passwords, then you can use a long passphrase instead. Again, it should be at least 12 characters long, consisting of four or more randomly selected words.
As unfortunate as it is, critical router vulnerabilities are discovered on a regular basis. Reputable router manufacturers regularly release updates to address them, but not all users install them — at least not in a timely manner.
Unpatched routers represent a huge security issue because they are exposed to the internet and are routinely targeted by hackers. That’s why you should always patch your router as soon as you can, even if it means losing your internet connection for a few minutes.
When it comes to wireless networks, most users want to achieve the widest signal coverage possible. In some cases, that’s really the correct approach, but not always.
If you live next to a busy public venue or school, it’s better to limit the range of your network so that it covers only the area you occupy. Why? Because that’s the easiest way to prevent hackers and curious strangers from trying to obtain access to it.
More advanced routers let you limit your network range by changing transmission power in settings, but you can also influence it by changing the placement of your router. We recommend you use NetSpot’s Survey mode to create a visual map of your WiFi coverage.
The map will make it easy to see exactly how far your signal can reach and where it is the strongest.
Physical security is often overlooked, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Unless your router is located someplace where strangers can’t easily go and protected by a strong admin password, an opportunistic attacker could replace it with their own router, connect their laptop to it and change its settings, or even infect it with malware.
The steps described in this article are enough to ensure a basic level of wireless security, but there’s a lot more that you can do to keep your data safe. For example, you can use network security devices to monitor network activity, detect threats, and stop attacks dead in their tracks.
Such device are commonly used by businesses, but there’s also a market for home network security devices, including the following ones:
In order to keep your Wireless LAN safe and secure you'll need to define and apply the right security measures to protect the access points from wardrivers. There are high-quality network security tools available that can discover WLAN, test the penetration and assess vulnerability.
You can use NetSpot for site survey and then periodically run it to ensure there are no rogue APs and unauthorized connections in your network.
The WiFi security issues you may run into include:
NetSpot WiFi Site Survey tool is a good way to start with your WiFi security. This app helps you find and eliminate rogue APs that you didn't authorize to be deployed. NetSpot site survey will help you detect unauthorized workstations as well.
An up-to-date inventory of laptops and PDAs with wireless adapters, with user, MAC address and operating system information is a must for proper WLAN access controls.
It is also efficient to survey public areas neighboring with your network. You can use the collected data to avoid the cross-interference and eliminate the possibility of false-positive intrusion alerts.
Secure your wireless network with unique passwords and proper network encryption. Protecting assets and properly organizing network topology is important. Make sure your wireless signal range extends where needed and try using VPN for more advanced features for your network.
To keep your WiFi network safe you'll need certain security measures in place. There are high-quality network security tools that can discover WLAN, test the penetration and assess vulnerability. Try running a WiFi site survey with NetSpot and make it a habit of doing so regularly to ensure no rogue APs are present and there are no unauthorized connections to your network.
The main types of wireless security protocols are:
Modern routers are amazingly powerful and capable devices whose performance rivals those of older personal computers. Thanks to their power, they can act as network security devices by providing firewall, VPN, and other functionally.
Network wireless security is the collection of activities whose common purpose is to strengthen the security of wireless networks to protect them from hacking, snooping, unauthorized use, and other threats.
Wireless network security has become very important because of our growing reliance on the internet and wireless networks in particular. Unless properly secured, the same networks we use to stay connected can attract dangerous cybercriminals and malware.