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Why is wireless transmission the least secure?

Why is wireless transmission the least secure?
People have issues with wireless for many different reasons. Some of them include the fact that most wireless AP's ship with encryption turned off. This in turn leads to them being installed without any security mechanisms in place. Tools like Netstumbler can be used to quickly find these insecure nodes. As an example, there are about 15 insecure nodes within a few blocks of my house. An unscrupulous user could easily us these open nodes to launch attacks or perform other types of nefarious activity.

Another big problem with wireless is that the signal does not stop at your property line. Rather large directional antennas can be purchased that would allow these signals to be intercepted from several blocks away.

Finally, the original version of wireless security (WEP) is rather weak. Tools like Airsnort can be used to crack these secret keys.

So while wireless is a great technology, consider securing it in a layered manner. Defense-in-depth can do wonders to in fixing the problems I discussed above.

This was last published in August 2004

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